As our population continues to grow and more drivers take to the roads, the number of serious auto accidents is only slated to grow with the population. New technologies give many drivers a false sense of confidence and it is important for anyone who slides behind the wheel to understand the most common causes of accidents and how best to avoid them. The Chicago car accident attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers understand how devastating a car accident can be and the impact it can have on the rest of your life.
Auto Accidents Have a Multitude of Causes
The average driver cannot appreciate just how dangerous it can be to operate a motor vehicle. Cars, trucks and motorcycles are all capable of achieving great speeds and doing even greater harm to passengers when colliding with other vehicles or objects. Weather, road conditions, the reckless actions of other people and driver error all contribute to accidents to varying degrees, so it is important to be aware of how all of these hazards impact your safety and what you can do to reduce your risks.
Accident causes can be separated into mechanical issues, driver error, weather conditions and manmade road hazards. Multiple factors may influence whether drivers are involved in a wreck, so it reconstructing the accident and determining all of the contributing causes is important when recovering compensation for injuries.
Mechanical Failure and Defective Design
Auto manufacturers and parts suppliers may be held accountable when their products do not work as intended or poor product design causes a failure that leads to an accident. Automotive recalls have made the headlines on a consistent basis in recent year due to the numerous flaws and defects discovered in vital automotive systems. It is also the responsibility of drivers to properly maintain their vehicles in order to reduce the risk of mechanical failure. Many lives are lost or changed forever in catastrophic accidents due to the failure of these parts. Examples include the following.
- Steering and suspension system failures— the loss of steering control can be devastating as the driver of the affected vehicle suddenly loses control. This can result in single vehicle accidents when the vehicle strikes an object or building or multivehicle accidents when the car travels into oncoming traffic or across multiple lanes.
- Tire and brake failures— the tires are the only part of your vehicle to touch the ground, which is why it is important that your tires have a firm grip on the pavement. Poorly inflated tires can lose traction and tire defects can cause the tire to blowout without notice, forcing the driver to take evasive action to avoid an accident. Maintaining your brakes is just as important, as a defect in the brake line system or over worn brake pads can inhibit your ability to stop.
- Lighting system failures— visibility is extremely important during adverse weather conditions and it is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that his or her lights are in working order whenever hitting the road. Unfortunately for many drivers, the realization that your hazard lights or headlights are not working properly normally comes during a storm, and other vehicles are more likely to collide with yours when you are unable to alert others to your presence.
There are many factors that contribute to driver error, but most of them can be tied to poor decision making. Our Chicago auto accident attorneys believe that every action that you make behind the wheel can increase or reduce the risk that you will be involved in an accident, but sometimes you are placed at risk entirely due to another person’s actions— which are completely beyond your control. The causes of driver error include, but are not limited to the following.
- Speeding and tailgating— these errors are related to the impatience of drivers, who act more aggressive when in a hurry to get to their destinations. Studies have shown that excessive speeds are a major factor in the severity of injuries suffered in accidents. Speeding doesn’t actually get drivers to their destinations much faster either, as traveling an extra 10-20 mph faster may only shave several minutes off of a local trip.
- Driver distraction— technology has allowed many drivers to grow complacent by providing a false sense of security. While it is true that new safety technologies may reduce the severity of accidents, the connective technologies offered in many new vehicles also add new ways to draw drivers’ attention away from the road. The majority of reported accidents in recent years have involved some degree of driver distraction.
- Drunk driving— despite public awareness campaigns spanning decades that have attempted to deter drivers from operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol, drunk driving continues to be a serious cause of auto injury and death. Nearly one in every three auto-related fatalities is linked to a drunk driver and it is well within the rights of victims and their families to pursue justice against anyone so irresponsible as to place others at risk due to such a careless personal decision.
- Failure to see others on the road— many accidents result when a driver doesn’t check his or her blind spot or fails to see another vehicle on in his or her path. This is also a contributing factor in many motorcycle and pedestrian accidents and is more likely to occur at night or during adverse weather conditions.
The Impact of Weather Conditions on Road Safety
Our Chicago auto injury lawyers cannot stress how important it is for drivers to act with caution during adverse weather conditions. The weather can play a large role in car accidents by increasing stopping distances, making it more difficult to identify hazards and affecting the ability of drivers to operate vehicles safely. The most common weather hazards that influence car accidents include the following.
- Heavy fog— the presence of fog greatly reduces your visibility and many fog related accidents result from the combination of poor visibility and speeds that are excessive for conditions. When you are driving through fog, reducing your speed may just save your life.
- Ice and snow— in addition to increasing the stopping distance of vehicles on the road, snow and ice can impact the ability to maintain directional control. Bridges and elevated roads are more likely to be covered in ice, so it is important to approach these roads with extra caution.
- Rain and flooding— most drivers don’t appreciate just how hazardous rain can be. In addition to making roads slippery, it reduces visibility and challenges some drivers who have difficulty seeing well in nighttime conditions. Excessive rain can also flood the roads, causing vehicles to hydroplane or kick water onto others’ windshields.
- Morning and evening glare— a perfect sunny day can also be considered a weather hazard when drivers are required to drive into the sun during their morning or evening commute. Many accidents are the result of drivers failing to see what is right in front of them because the sun blinds or distracts them.
Manmade Road Hazards
There are occasions when the roads or environment become hazardous to drivers. This can be the result of road construction, the failure of local governments to maintain their roads, poorly designed intersections, malfunctioning traffic control devices and more. Some of the most common manmade hazards include the following.
- Roads with inaccurate or incorrect signage— the failure of workers to display the correct signage for construction zones or to mark one-way streets can influence drivers on the road and place them in perilous positions.
- Malfunctioning traffic lights— some accidents occurring at intersections occur when the light is out or not working properly. Heavy traffic only increases the risk that drivers at these intersections will collide with one another.
- Heavy construction equipment— construction zones are as dangerous for passing motorists as they are for the workers repairing the roads. If machine operators back into the path of traffic, serious injuries can result.
- Poorly maintained roads— if roads are riddled with potholes and the pavement is uneven due to neglect, it is possible for these hazards to cause accidents. Many of these accidents result when the road hazard causes a mechanical failure, such as when a pothole blows out an unsuspecting driver’s tire.
The many hazards present on our roads and the volume of traffic that travel them make car accidents inevitable for many drivers. Even the most skilled and cautious drivers can find themselves in a wreck with another driver, despite taking every step recommended to reduce their risks. An appreciation of these risks is required to help keep the roads safe. In reality, however, more drivers are growing complacent every year with the introduction of new safety technologies.
The Chicago car accident attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers believe that the only way to make the roads safer is to hold all drivers responsible for doing their part. When their reckless or irresponsible behavior threatens the safety of others, they should be held liable for the consequences.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, contact us today to learn more about how we can recover the maximum amount of compensation available for your injuries. We will collect the information we need to work on your behalf and cover all of your legal options with you during a risk-free consultation. Should we be unable to collect compensation on your behalf, you are assured that our services will be free of charge.