The hustle and bustle of the busy holiday seasons is upon us and with it comes an increase in car accidents every year. As people rush from place to place to tackle all of the tasks on their to-do lists, they forget to be careful, get a little extra tipsy before driving, and engage in behaviors that cause dangerous collisions.
While there’s never a good time for an accident, the holidays are not the time of year anyone wants to deal with the stress and injuries that come with most car crashes. But knowing how the majority of collisions in California occur can help you be prepared and vigilant so that they can be avoided.
2018 ended with 3,651 fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents, staying steady with the previous few years. But Los Angeles alone had more than 60,000 traffic accidents resulting in injuries that same year.
California tourists and residents drive nearly 400 billion miles altogether in 2019, with many of these miles occurring in November and December.
To avoid collisions, educate yourself and drive responsibly by watching for these 15 top causes of collisions.
It’s the Most “Dangerous” Time of the Year
In almost every car collision case that comes across the desk of Hershey Law, the accident was preventable. Had the negligent party been doing their due diligence and driving responsibly, in accordance with the law and expectations of them when they got behind the wheel, the accident would not have occurred.
If that accident hadn’t happened, the victim and their families wouldn’t have had the upheaval and problems that they were dealing with. And the negligent party wouldn’t be facing serious consequences as a result.
But sometimes people look at driving as a right instead of a privilege, and they don’t take it for the dangerous activity it is. Breaches in the responsibilities of drivers have caused millions of accidents. The end-of-year holiday season often brings a spike in crashes that you may be able to avoid by educating yourself.
Here are the top 15 causes of California collisions and how you can avoid them.
- Distracted driving – Since cell phones and other electronic devices have become commonplace in every car, distracted driving has skyrocketed to the top position as the number one cause of car accidents in the country.
Most states have merged their laws regarding phone usage into one that encompasses all distracted driving, but texting and driving was the main catalyst. The category itself includes texting, using any handheld devices, listening to loud music and playing with the radio, talking to passengers, eating, and engaging in any activity that distracts you while you are driving.
- Nighttime driving. The evening and night hours are prime time for car accidents. Many people think this would be the opposite, since more motorists are on the road during the day. But those who are driving at night have less ability to see potential obstacles and avoid the collisions and they are also frequently tired or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you must drive at night, ensure that you are within a safe stopping distance from the cars around you. Stay alert for pedestrians on the side of the road. If you are a pedestrian, wear bright colors and reflectors to make you more visible and follow the rules of traffic.
- Speeding – California is known for its long and winding roads. Speeding on the Pacific Coast Highway and any other road is not just dangerous, it’s deadly. A car accident that occurs at the speed limit has the potential to cause serious injury. But the faster you are going, the harder the impact at the time of the collision is and the more traumatic the results will be.
Speed limits are designed after diligent research. They are set based on the idea that if you are doing the speed limit, you will have time to avoid the common obstacles that may be in your way on that route.
- Driving under the influence – Driving under the influence of alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs is a major cause of accidents. It’s hard to avoid the erratic driving behavior of a person who is under the influence. You can’t usually see them, just their unpredictable driving, and sometimes you can’t see that until it’s too late.
But you can prevent being the person causing the accident. Don’t get behind the wheel of a car if you are under the influence of painkillers or other medications with warnings not to drive on them. Have a designated driver ready if you do choose to party during this holiday season. With so many rideshare options in Los Angeles and the rest of the country, there’s no excuse to drive under the influence.
- Tailgating – Usually the cause of minor accidents, tailgating occurs when one vehicle is following too closely behind another one. The general guideline is to keep two to three car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you so that if they need to stop abruptly, you can avoid a collision.
If you are the car that causes a rear-end collision, it’s usually because you were tailgating and you can expect a ticket. However, the problem escalates quickly when the vehicles behind you also crash, causing a domino of accidents – all based on the fact that you were tailgating.
It’s a big mess that you don’t want to be responsible for, so don’t tailgate.
- Reckless driving – Reckless driving includes everything from speeding to aggressive driving. Tailgating, swerving through traffic, running red lights, and more all fall into this dangerous category.
As a driver, it’s your responsibility to be courteous to other motorists. If you’re caught recklessly driving, those tickets add up quickly, and if you’ve caused an accident due to reckless driving, you may even end up in jail.
- Driving in difficult weather conditions – California is known for often temperate weather, but when it rains, it usually pours. Snow is a problem throughout much of California, too. And with so many fires that rage throughout the year, you may find yourself driving in impaired visibility from smoke and fog.
The best way to avoid a crash due to weather conditions is to wait until the unsafe weather has passed. But if you must drive, do so slowly and cautiously. Driving with your hazards on is illegal, but stay in the right lane, use your headlights, and stay at or just under the speed limit.
- Driving while drowsy – Drivers who are behind the wheel when they are fatigued are almost as dangerous as those who drive under the influence. Your judgment is impaired and your reaction time slows. You may not even realize that your vision isn’t accurate, and if you fall asleep behind the wheel, you could go off the road or cause an accident with another vehicle.
Because a tired driver who nods off isn’t awake, they can’t slow down to prevent the collision, making it almost always a serious crash with major injuries.
You can’t always avoid someone else who is driving while drowsy, but if you yourself feel like you may be impaired due to your fatigue, find a safe spot to pull over and rest for a few minutes. Even a five minute catnap can be enough to get you safely to your destination.
- Inexperienced drivers – When your teenager turns driving age, there’s a reason your insurance rates increase dramatically. Inexperienced drivers tend to cause more accidents, drive recklessly, and drive while distracted.
Teenagers in California must be at least 15 ½ and have passed a driver’s education course to get their permit. To obtain their license, they have to have had their permit for a minimum of six months, and then it’s a provisional license.
For one year, they are not allowed to drive in the dangerous hours of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and can only drive with a passenger if they have a licensed driver aged 25 or older in the car. Two or more citations can even result in a suspended license.
It’s a harsh requirement, but it has plenty of research backed behind it as to why it’s necessary.
- Changing lanes – You have at least three mirrors in your car and you should use all of them when you change lanes. Check the cars in front of you, in back of you, and to the side you are attempting to change to, and look over your shoulder as well.
“Blind spots” are the cause of many sideswipe accidents that could have been avoided if the at-fault party had looked more carefully before pulling over.
- Unexpected obstacles – Accidents due to unexpected obstacles in the road are common California problems. Animal crossings, boulder falling areas, and construction sites are daily issues for many drivers in the state.
While the actual obstacle itself may be unexpected at the time, most of these problems occur in heavily marked areas. To prevent the surprise of an animal jumping in front of you or a boulder falling, be vigilant if you see signs warning of these hazards.
Get Help Quickly if You Have Been in an Accident
Whether it’s the holiday season or the rest of the year, no one wants to face dealing with the red tape of a car accident lawsuit by themselves.
If you have been in a collision caused by any of these reasons or any other negligence, call Hershey Law for your free consultation to see how we can help you get back on track to making your holiday season merry and bright.