What Causes Car Accidents?

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My friends and I have no trouble getting around, because we have a great friend who is always willing to take us places. However, I’m a little worried that we’re not traveling as safely as possible. My friend loves to eat while he drives, and he makes a point of stopping at fast food restaurants almost every time we hit the road. That’s probably not great for his health, but I’m worried that it’s also not great for the safety of the rest of us. He’s always driving with one hand or focusing on his fries or drink, when he should be looking at the road. My friends think I’m overreacting, though. They say fast food does not cause accidents (or not many of them, anyway), and that I’m being ridiculous for acting like this is as bad as texting and driving. Experts, does behavior like my friend’s cause accidents? How does it compare to other factors in accidents?


Your friend’s behavior certainly does not sound safe. Driving requires the driver’s full attention, and anything that takes away that attention is seriously unsafe. Ultimately, the road does not care if your attention has drifted because you are reading a text, or because you are digging into the McDonald’s bag to find that last fry. If your eyes aren’t on the road, you’re in danger, period.


The list of things that can cause car accidents is long. However, virtually all causes fall into just a few basic categories. Accidents are caused by environmental factors, poor decisions, impaired driving, or distractions. Let’s break down some of the top causes, then explain why our list demonstrates that your friend is making a dangerous choice.


The fifth-leading cause of car accidents is rain. It’s the most prominent environmental cause of accidents in the United States. The fourth- and third-leading causes are poor driver decisions made while on the road: reckless driving (fourth) and speeding (third).


Second place goes to drunk driving, which is the most common type of impaired driving. Drunk driving statistics are truly tragic. Nearly a third of all car accident fatalities are due to drunk driving. More than one million people are arrested each year for driving impaired, and it’s likely that many more avoid getting caught and remain free.


The single most common cause of car accidents in the United States is distracted drivers. This category is admittedly broad, but it certainly includes your friend’s actions. You can tell your friends that you are not overreacting. It’s no exaggeration to say that actions like your driving friend’s are the single most common cause of car accidents.


Distracted driving includes texting while driving, a mistake that has plenty of well-earned notoriety in our country. Also, eating a french fry may seem innocent. Unfortunately, the statistics don’t back that up. One 2009 study showed that a staggering 80% of all car accidents were caused by folks eating fast food! The increase in smartphone ownership may have eaten into that figure in the years since, but it’s evident that eating fast food while driving has not magically become any safer since 2009.


Ultimately, here’s what matters: your friend is distracting himself regularly when driving. That would be clearly unsafe, even if we didn’t have the statistics to support the case. It’s unlikely that anyone caused any accidents last year by trying to juggle while driving, but it wouldn’t take a genius to see why that’s unsafe. The fact that we do happen to have a huge number of people eating while driving, and that the people in that group are regularly crashing their cars, only cements our point. Tell your friend to eat his food in the parking lot, before getting back on the road.


“Accidents do not happen. They are caused.” – The Fresh Quotes