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The most common causes of vehicle crashes

Even with all of the new safety technology being built into vehicles, including back-up cameras, sensors that know if we're getting too close to another car and multiple types of warnings that can jolt a daydreaming or distracted driver to attention, the number of fatal crashes on our roads is rising. While the number of these crashes had been in decline for half a century, it's risen over the past two years.

Part of the reason could be that we spend a lot of time in our cars. Many drivers are burning the candle at both ends -- working at more than one job or trying to work and go to school. They're driving before dawn, after dark and rushing to get to their destination.

It's not surprising, then, that over one-fifth of fatal vehicle crashes involve drowsy drivers. Some 37 percent of drivers have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point. Even episodes of "microsleep." where the brain shuts down for a few moments, can cause a serious accident.

That's why it's essential to review some factors before you get behind the wheel. Is it dark out? Will you be alone? Did you get at least seven hours of sleep the previous night? These are all factors that can cause someone to fall asleep while driving.

Other common causes of car accidents include:

  • Loss of control
  • Rolling turn to the right at a red light
  • Blind turn to the right at an intersection
  • Inadvertently moving into another lane
  • Rear-end collisions

The last one often results in merely a "fender-bender." However, vehicles caught in the middle of these crashes can flip over, resulting in serious and fatal injuries.

Many of these accidents can be prevented by taking an extra second or two to make sure that the coast is clear, slowing down or allowing more space between your vehicle and others on the road.

This can help us avoid causing an accident as well as becoming the victim of one caused by a driver who is less cautious. If you are the victim of a crash caused by a reckless or negligent driver, it's essential to know what your legal rights are.

Source: Slate, "Anatomy of a Car Crash," Steve Casner, accessed Dec. 06, 2017

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