Car accidents occur when you least expect them. In the blink of an eye, a routine drive transforms into a nightmare of twisted metal and sharp pain. In the best case, a car accident ruins your day. In the worse, it inflicts serious, even life-threatening injuries on you or a loved one. As one of the most populous cities both in Texas and in the United States, San Antonio sees its share of traffic and traffic accidents. While car accidents can happen both in rural areas as well as urban ones, there are some common causes, regardless of how busy the roads are.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
It may feel like a car accident happened without warning, but that doesn’t mean it came out of nowhere. Usually (though not always), accidents happen because of someone’s careless, negligent, even reckless behavior. Understanding the common causes of car accidents can help you avoid them.
Fortunately, the Texas Department of Transportation keeps careful track of the causes of car accidents on Texas roads. Here are some of the causes of accidents routinely affecting our clients.
- Speeding: Most drivers speed on occasion, and some drivers speed on a regular basis. Regardless of the frequency, drivers who speed put other motorists at risk for accidents that might result in severe or catastrophic injuries.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving killed 449 people on Texas roads in 2017. It can take many forms, including using a cell phone, checking a GPS, or even yell at kids in the back seat. These and other behind-the-wheel behaviors cause drivers to take their eyes off of the road for just long enough to lose awareness of the road ahead. Unfortunately, that moment of distraction can cause a catastrophe. In the space of just five seconds, a vehicle traveling at 55 miles per hour will travel the length of a football field: more than enough time for a collision to happen.
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI): DUIs involving alcohol resulted in 1,024 traffic deaths in Texas in 2017, accounting for 28 percent of all crash fatalities. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications, makes it impossible for drivers to operate a vehicle safely. Drivers under the influence have slowed reflexes and difficulty reading road conditions. They often speed or driver erratically, putting everyone else on the road at risk of injury and death.
- Driving recklessly: Reckless driving includes ignoring traffic signals, swerving around on the road, traveling at excessive speeds, following other vehicles too close, and stopping or accelerating erratically. Other drivers on the road often struggle to predict the behavior of reckless drivers, significantly increasing their odds of an accident.
- Weather hazards: Wind, rain, and ice can all significantly increase the chances of an accident for even the safest drivers. In 2017, for example, more than 10 percent of fatal accidents occurred on wet roads in Texas. When combined with other dangerous driving behaviors, like speeding or distracted driving, weather hazards quickly make for a deadly situation.
- Improperly designed or maintained roads: Some roads pose dangers to drivers merely by virtue of their design or condition. Roads with excessive potholes create headaches at any time of the year, but that is not the only road condition that can cause accidents. Roads with poorly-designed curves or grades, with visual obstructions intruding on the roadway, or with excessive sand or salt, can all create hazardous driving conditions. One particular danger of these roads is that drivers do not expect them to be dangerous, leading to increased changes of an accident.
- Mechanical failures: In some cases, mechanical failure within a vehicle may cause an accident. Sometimes, mechanical failure is the result of poor driver maintenance: the driver might, for example, fail to keep up with oil changes, or they might not have their brakes serviced in spite of a decline in stopping performance. Other times, mechanical failure, including premature airbag deployment, engine failure, tires falling off, or broken parts and pieces, may result from improper construction or poor quality control at the factory.
- Inexperience: Many accidents result, not from inattention, but from driver error due to inexperience. Young drivers tend to have more accidents than their older counterparts. A lack of road experience often leaves young drivers ill-prepared for unexpected situations, causing them to end up in accidents that more-experienced drivers would likely have avoided.
- Driving at night: Like driving during hazardous weather conditions, driving at night can increase the odds of an accident. At night, many drivers find it harder to see. They frequently fail to notice pedestrians or other vehicles, especially vehicles that fail to turn their lights on. At night, driver fatigue may inso increase, which also increases distraction.
- Road rage: Many drivers struggle to react appropriately when things do not go their way on the road. They may respond to flaring emotions by tailgating, speeding around another driver, or engaging in other reckless behaviors. Unfortunately, road rage can significantly increase the odds of an accident. Like driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, road rage can short circuit the logic centers in the driver’s brain, causing a driver to behave unpredictably and dangerously.
- Animals: Animals in the road can substantially increase the risk of accidents. Sometimes, large animals strike vehicle on their own. More often, however, the vehicle strike the animal as it stands in or crosses the roadway.. Even an animal as small as a squirrel, however, can cause an accident, because driver instinct is to swerve to avoid animals in the road, despite the danger to the driver of doing so.
- Loose objects in the car: Loose objects in the car may cause substantial distractions. They may roll under the driver’s feet and even get caught under the pedals, making it difficult for the driver to control the rate of speed or to brake effectively.
- Construction: There were 27,184 accidents in construction zones in 2017, more than 10 percent of which occurred in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located. Road work that helps repair damaged roads or makes improvements to existing travel lanes can, unfortunately, also lead to hazardous driving conditions. Construction leaves roads with uneven surfaces and creates unpredictable, unfamiliar traffic patterns that can leave drivers confused and prone to end up in a collision.
Choosing Your San Antonio Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in a San Antonio-area car accident retaining the services of an experienced car accident attorney will gives you the best chance of recovering any compensation due to you under Texas law. Contact The Law Offices of George Salinas today at (210) 225-0909 to connect with a skilled, compassionate attorney and to set up a free consultation at which we can discuss your circumstances and legal options.