Causes and Effects of Traffic Accidents

by Janise Smith
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Traffic accidents can be caused by a number of factors, including equipment malfunction as well as the actions of the driver, such as speeding or aggressive behaviors like tailgating or unsafe lane changes. The consequences of traffic accidents depend on variables such as the impact, number of vehicles involved and if vehicle occupants were protected by safety belts and/or air bags.

Distracted Drivers

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Distracted driving involves any nondriving activity that causes drivers not to pay full attention to their driving, including manual, visual and cognitive activities. Drivers that take their hands off of the wheel to turn the radio station, send text messages, eat or groom themselves increase their risk of causing traffic accidents. Talking on cell phones or other passengers, looking at a map or using a navigational system are all distractions that cause traffic accidents as well. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, nearly all of the traffic accidents in 2008 were caused by a type of distraction, and younger drivers under the age of 20 have the highest rate of fatal crashes that were distraction-related.

Impaired Drivers and Driver Fatigue

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Drivers under the influence of alcohol cause traffic accidents because their judgment is impaired and they are not able to quickly react in certain driving situations. Certain drugs and prescribed medications taken by drivers can also affect their ability to drive. Driver fatigue is another cause of traffic accidents occurring typically between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. when most drivers are used to being asleep. Driving while tired can result in drivers not paying attention to vehicle speed, allowing the vehicle to drift over road lines, daydreaming or dozing while driving.

Weather Conditions

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Inclement weather is another factor causing traffic accidents. Heavy rain, snowstorms or hail can decrease the visibility of drivers and cause them to misjudge the distance of other vehicles surrounding them. Driving through thick fog too fast may not allow drivers enough time to stop when approaching another vehicle. Road conditions as a result of the weather can cause roads to become slick and slippery, such as after ice storms and heavy rains, which may cause vehicles to slide and make it difficult to come to a complete stop.

Effects of Traffic Accidents

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Traffic accidents can cause physical, financial and mental effects for everyone involved. Drivers and passengers can suffer from minor cuts and bruises to broken limbs, whiplash, back and spinal injuries, paralysis and even death. Vehicles in traffic accidents are damaged and may be in need of minor or costly repairs or may even be completed totaled and no longer drivable. Additional effects of traffic accidents can include emotional and mental distress as people can suffer from post-traumatic stress from being involved in the accident or from losing a loved one due to a traffic accident.

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