When it comes to road safety, car accidents remain a major problem. Unfortunately, traffic accidents are still common and the consequences are often tragic for drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
In fact, thousands of people are involved in road accidents every year in Quebec and around the world. Let’s look more closely at their causes.
The most common factors in road accidents
There are several common causes of car accidents. All drivers should understand what they are and how they impact road safety.
Speeding is a common cause of road accidents worldwide. Speed is also a crucial factor in the severity of an accident: the higher the speed, the more serious the consequences of the accident.
Drivers can choose to speed for many reasons: being pressured for time, feeling frustrated or simply to seek a thrill. The consequences can be dramatic. A speeding driver has less time to react to unpredictable events, or to stop or avoid obstacles. Even small increases in speed can mean significantly longer braking distances.
It is essential to respect speed limits and adjust your driving to current road conditions. Keep in mind that speed limits are there to protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians, and should not be considered an inconvenience. If you find yourself the victim of a traffic accident, file a claim with the SAAQ as soon as possible following the event.
2. Distracted driving
Distracted driving is also a significant and often underestimated cause of traffic accidents. Drivers can be distracted by using cell phones while driving, putting on makeup, eating, reading or simply looking away from the road. An unfocused driver will be unable to react quickly and could miss important signals such as traffic lights and signs, or even collide with pedestrians.
Despite the fact that it is illegal to use or even hold a cell phone while driving in Quebec and many other parts of Canada, cell phones still pose a problem and are increasingly common cause of distracted driving. Sending or reading text messages, surfing the Internet or using apps while driving can distract the driver for several seconds at a time, significantly increasing the risk of an accident.
To avoid an accident, always stay focused on the road. Set aside potential distractions before you start your car. If you absolutely must answer a call or send a text message, pull over at a safe location first.
3. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is a major cause of traffic accidents. Drinking alcohol reduces coordination and reaction times, affects vision and impairs judgment and decision-making. Illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin can also impair perception, coordination and judgment, as well as causing drowsiness and euphoria.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is not only dangerous, it is also illegal in Canada and many other countries. Penalties can be severe, ranging from fines to jail time. A driver could even have their license suspended.
To avoid traffic accidents caused by driving under the influence, never get behind the wheel after consuming mind-altering substances. If you plan to drink alcohol with friends, choose a designated driver or use public transportation to prevent you or a loved one from dying in a car accident.
4. Non-compliance with traffic rules
Traffic laws are there to ensure the safety of all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. Speeding, disregarding traffic signals, reckless lane changing and wrong-way driving are all violations of these rules and a common cause of car accidents.
Obey speed limits and traffic lights, and signal lane changes to avoid accidents. Remain aware of other road users and focus on your driving at all times.
5. Bad weather conditions
Rain, snow, fog or ice are also a common cause of traffic accidents. Bad weather can make roads slippery, reduce visibility and increase the braking distance needed to come to a full stop.
If you must drive in rain, snow or freezing rain, remember to slow down and drive more carefully than usual. Make sure your vehicle is equipped with proper tires for the weather conditions – snow tires or, in some cases, studded tires. Always keep enough distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you, since braking distance increases on slippery roads.
You can also monitor weather advisories and postpone your trip if conditions are too dangerous. If you absolutely must drive in severe weather conditions, stay alert and drive carefully.
6. Vehicle problems
Problems with vehicles can also cause traffic accidents. Common issues include deflated or worn tires, faulty brakes, faulty steering, broken headlights or taillights, and other mechanical problems. These can affect how the vehicle handles, make driving more difficult or even reduce visibility.
Make sure your vehicle is well maintained and that any mechanical issues are resolved before you get on the road. Check the condition of your tires regularly and make sure they are inflated to the recommended psi. Brakes should also be checked regularly to make sure they are in top working condition.
If you notice a problem with your vehicle while you are driving, slow down and find a safe place to stop. Assess the situation, and if necessary, call a mechanic or a breakdown service.
7. Driver fatigue
Driver fatigue has recently become a more common cause of traffic accidents. Fatigued drivers have slower reflexes and reduced ability to concentrate. They can even fall asleep at the wheel, which can lead to very serious accidents.
Learn to recognize the signs of driver fatigue, which include frequent yawning, difficulty concentrating, stinging eyes, involuntary steering movements, and more. When you notice these symptoms, pull over to a safe place and take a rest break.
To avoid driver fatigue, get a good night’s sleep beforehand and plan regular breaks throughout your trip. Avoid driving for long stretches at a time. Drivers should also avoid taking medications that can cause drowsiness, such as antihistamines or sleeping pills.
Safety on the road is paramount, and avoiding driver fatigue can save lives.
Car accident victims can get help from our lawyers
Traffic accidents can be caused by many factors, but there are things you can do to drive more safely and prevent accidents. Be aware of potential dangers and take every precaution to avoid getting in an accident.
If you are the victim of a motor vehicle accident, you may be eligible for compensation from the SAAQ. Our victim compensation law firm in Montreal can help you obtain the settlement you deserve.
To learn more, contact us today.