Top Reasons Accidents Happen

Top Reasons Accidents Happen

For the most part, the top reasons accidents happen involve driver error. Until drivers are out of the equation, eliminating driver error is not so easy to do. However, by learning about the most frequent types of driver error, it might be possible to reduce the number of accidents occurring every day. This would have an enormous effect on travel in and around Berkeley and free drivers to arrive at their destination safely. Let’s take a look at the six top reasons accidents happen in and around the city and how a lawyer can help if you are involved in one.

Accidents Are Everywhere

Nationwide, nearly 40,000 people die in traffic accidents annually. To put it in perspective, this means approximately 100 individuals die daily. In 2016, there were 675 collisions in Berkeley, injuring 875 people. The majority were broadside or T-bone accidents, followed closely by rear-end collisions and vehicle/pedestrian crashes. While the top reasons accidents happen vary, there are common elements that we’ll explore below.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become the leading reason for accidents. With cell phones and other electronic devices taking a prominent place in vehicles, it is a small wonder that this is true. Even though California bans hand-held cell phone usage, including the act of texting, drivers ignore this law more than we would like to imagine. For instance, in 2016 alone, almost 350,000 people were injured in accidents involving texting. The enormity of the distraction epidemic is described by the realization that out of 2.6 million accidents in this country, 1.6 million involve the use of cell phones. There are other things that are distracting motorists while driving. They include applying make-up, playing with a navigation system, eating and tuning the radio just to name a few.

Elements of Distracted Driving

There are three elements of distracted driving. The first is a cognitive distraction. While many believe that multitasking is possible, some studies have shown that the mind is truly capable of doing one thing at a time. When a driver should be focused on the road, but instead is looking at a new text or resetting the GPS for an alternate route, the mind’s focus is divided. Manual distraction is the second element, and in terms of driving, it means that the driver’s hands are not on the wheel. For example, grasping for something on the seat next to you will reduce the control you need to maintain your lane or swerve from an oncoming vehicle. Finally, the third element of distraction is visual. When you look at an accident on the side of the road, you are visually distracted.

Watch the following video as attorney Ed Smith illustrates the danger of texting:

Why Texting is at the Top of the List

Texting combines all three types of distraction. Of all top reasons accidents happen, texting is the epitome of distracted driving. That is because in the time it takes to read a text (usually 5 seconds) when your vehicle is traveling at 55 mph, your car will have traveled the length of a football field. On crowded highways, it is impossible to do this without having a high risk of crashing.

Drunk Driving is One of the Top Reasons Accidents Happen

Over 10,000 people die from drunk driving accidents every year. Alcohol lessens one’s ability to use good judgment and to think clearly. It also has a disastrous effect on manual dexterity. Taken together, this leads to horrific crashes such as head-on collisions where the death rate is high. Despite laws making drinking and driving illegal, it continues to happen. Being aware of drunk drivers is one way to be safer on the road. If you see a vehicle swerving from one lane to another or other erratic behavior, leave as much room as you can between your car and them. Call police if you are able to safely.


Speeding is one of the top reasons accidents happen. It has been reported that at least 30 percent of accidents involve speeding as a causative factor. In addition, speeding enhances the degree of damage that occurs. Drivers who are speeding tend to lose control of their vehicle much more frequently. When that happens on an icy or wet surface, the results are even greater. In such instances, a collision with a speeding vehicle can lead to subsequent crashes as cars are thrown into one another. This is often referred to as a chain-reaction crash or multiple vehicle collision.

Running a Stop Sign or Traffic Light

According to the Federal Highway Administration, about 45 percent of accidents in an intersection are due to reckless behavior such as someone running a red light or failing to stop at a stop sign. It is possible to use the final placement of the vehicles to determine how the accident happened. In addition, witness statements are useful in adding supporting information. If there is a video camera located at the intersection, the footage will most likely capture the accident. In the event that it is difficult to obtain the film, your attorney can subpoena this record.

Poor Road Conditions

Poor road conditions include not just potholes and roadway debris but also signage and design. It is the government agency’s responsibility to make sure that the road is passable and does not pose any harm to drivers. In addition, signs that are worn and unreadable or hidden by foliage also need to be maintained. The design of the road is important too. For example, entrance and exit ramps are often confusing and lead to wrong way driving accidents. Individuals hurt because of such road conditions have a right to recover damages. Since this involves a lawsuit against a government agency, there are different rules for the length of time you have to file. Your personal injury lawyer will make sure that all claims are filed in time.

Construction Areas

One of the top reasons accidents happen involves the chaos that often exists in a construction area. It is difficult to navigate through the construction zone on its own, but bright lights and distractions make it worse. Some drivers speed through the construction zone, leading to accidents. In others, the directions are not clearly demarcated. If an accident happens here, as many do, it is necessary to determine who was at fault. In many cases, it will be the construction company or public agency in charge of the project. Your personal injury lawyer can investigate the crash to determine fault.

Berkeley Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Berkeley. When you are involved in an accident, the insight an attorney can provide can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call me at (510) 631-0200 or at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also contact me online.

I have helped numerous Berkeley residents and others in Northern California obtain the recovery they deserve in all types of car accidents, truck crashes, and brain injuries.

The Million Dollar Advocates is a forum of trial attorneys from around the country who have won more than $1 million for a client. I am pleased to report I am a California member.

When you need an attorney, you should learn about their practice. You can read reviews from former clients and my peers as well as see the way I resolved prior cases on the following pages:

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