The average person has a 1 in 114 overall lifetime odds of dying in a car accident, whether as an occupant, driver, or pedestrian, as a car accident lawyer can attest. In any given year, that translates into a 1 in 9,008 chance. Of course, auto accidents were only the second highest cause of death behind overdoses and unintentional poisonings in 2014, so the lifetime odds make a little more sense. Still, in addition to the usual tips for safe driving and overall death avoidance, it is also helpful to avoid becoming a statistic by knowing the top three causes of death in car accidents.
#3: Drunk driving: whether you are the drunk driver or you are hit by a drunk driver, this is the third top cause of fatalities involving cars. Overall, drunk driving as a cause of fatal crashes in the United States has declined significantly since 1982, due in part to increased awareness of drunk driving, better enforcement and punishment of it, increase in the legal age to drink to 21, and lowering the blood alcohol content (BAC) necessary to be considered intoxicated. However, it still represents a large proportion of annual fatalities. In 2015, almost one-third of accident fatalities were due to drunk driving which translated into 10,265 lives lost. Fatal crashes caused by drivers who were impaired by alcohol were four times as likely to happen at night as during the day.
#2 Speeding: To say that our nation as a whole is in a general hurry would be an understatement. In the world we created with instant gratification on so many levels, it shouldn’t be surprising that speeding has become a big problem as well. Speeding has also become much easier due to cars that routinely offer engines boasting horsepower that rivals NASCAR engines of past generations. This also leads to the inconvenient truth that a large proportion – 31 percent in 2007 and 27 percent in 2015 – of car accident fatalities are due to speeding. The estimated total cost of speeding-related crashes in 2000 was $40.4 billion. This is true even despite the increased overall safety of cars and better enforcement of speeding. Other factors that contribute to the speeding epidemic include cheap gas and a booming economy that allows people to buy larger and more powerful cars without breaking too much economic sweat.
#1 Distracted Driving: The accidents caused by distracted driving run the gamut of traffic violations from failure to yield, failure to stop, failure to stay in the proper lane and failure to obey signs. Any one of these failures can and usually does lead to an accident and in some unfortunate cases, fatalities. There must be distraction of which there is no shortage. Texting, taking selfies (yes, really), applying makeup, eating, reading, and hair maintenance – really, doing anything that takes your attention away from driving – increase your chances of getting into an accident.
Of course, the worst distracted driving habits revolve around smartphones. A person texting while driving is 23 times more likely to have an accident than someone who is not texting. Just using a handheld device makes a person four times more likely to crash. Consider that in 2015, a survey of high school students found that 42 percent – almost half – reported having sent a text or e-mail while driving. Not surprisingly, drivers aged 15 to 19 reported the highest percentage of fatalities due to distracted driving.