There are over 5 million car accidents in the United States every year. While there are many potential causes for car accidents, most of them boil down to driver negligence. As a matter of fact, many people participate in negligent driving without even realizing that’s what they’re doing.
Many people don’t know exactly what driver negligence is. We’re here to talk about it. Read on to learn all about driver negligence.
1. Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence is one of the most well-known versions of driver negligence. Everyone knows that it’s not appropriate to drive while or after using drugs or alcohol, and yet tens of thousands of fatal drunk driving accidents happen every year.
If someone’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is over .08, they are driving illegally. If they are using or have recently used drugs, enough so that they’re still impaired, they are driving illegally.
Many people mistakenly believe that they’re better drivers when they’re under the influence. Others simply don’t think they have other options when they need to get home at night.
2. Aggressive Driving
When you’re on the road, it’s always best to be a defensive driver. Defensive driving means that you’re keeping an eye on every other driver and pedestrian and you’re staying ready to respond to an unexpected situation.
Defensive drivers give other drivers space, they don’t try to speed or pass drivers going the speed limit unless they have to. They keep their eyes on the road at all times.
Defensive drivers are always ready for a problem. While defensive drivers can still get into accidents, they’re less likely to be at fault for them.
Aggressive drivers, however, are dangerous.
When we talk about aggressive drivers, we’re not just talking about drivers who get road rage. Road rage is dangerous (and in some cases, deadly), but it’s only the most obvious form of aggressive driving.
Drivers who weave through traffic trying to get ahead and drivers who don’t give other cars enough space are also aggressive drivers. They’re not respecting the other drivers on the road or considering the danger that they’re causing.
Many aggressive drivers are paying close attention to what’s going on on the road, but they’re not giving themselves time and space to respond to potentially dangerous situations.
3. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a common and insidious form of negligent driving. There are many ways that a driver can become distracted, and not all of them are completely within the driver’s control.
One of the most common (and preventable) ones is driving while using the phone. 14% of fatal crashes involve cell phones.
Texting and driving is far too common. Many people don’t think it’s dangerous to text while they drive, even if they’re driving fast.
When you’re texting, you’re not able to devote your full attention to the task at hand: driving your car. Even if you can text without looking at your phone, you’re still taking a hand off of the wheel.
If you don’t have a speech-to-text feature integrated into your car, wait until you can pull over to text.
Even making phone calls can be distracting, however. Again, if your car doesn’t have phone integration, you’re using a hand to hold the phone. While this is safer than texting and driving, it’s still not safe.
Not all forms of distracted driving involve phones. There are plenty of other attractions, some of which are legal.
For example, it’s legal in most places to eat while driving. It’s legal to have other people in your car even if they can distract you.
Parents get distracted by their children, and it’s legal for them to drive those children around. Distracted driving is dangerous and not always 100% preventable.
4. Driving While Drowsy
Drowsy driving is another tricky form of negligent driving. When you’re tired on the road, you may as well be driving under the influence. Your reaction times won’t be as good, you may be more emotionally responsive to problems on the road, and you could even fall asleep.
This is a large problem for people who drive for a living. When your job revolves around you being able to drive all night, it’s difficult to make time to rest.
If you’re driving while drowsy, it’s in your best interest to find a rest stop and wake yourself up. You can take a short nap, get some caffeine, or just stretch your legs and get your blood moving again so you’re ready to get back out onto the road and stay alert.
It is always better to pull over and rest if you’re feeling like you may fall asleep behind the wheel, especially if you’re in a large vehicle. It could save a life.
5. Bad Weather Driving
Most people will, at some point, experience bad weather and have to decide whether or not they’re going to drive in it. in areas with poor public transportation, not driving in bad weather isn’t an option. That doesn’t mean that driving in poor weather can’t be negligent.
It’s best to practice driving in poor weather in semi-safe conditions (for example, in empty parking lots or on back roads). This way, you have some experience with driving in poor conditions when you have to do it “for real.”
When you get ready to drive in bad weather, you should be extra cautious. Make sure that you’re taking every step required to keep yourself and other drivers safe.
If there’s snow, you should make sure you remove all snow from the top and sides of your car. While you’re driving, snow can slide off of the top and sides and hit the driver behind you or obscure your own vision. This puts you and the other drivers at risk.
You should also de-ice your windshield, rear window, and mirrors so you can see around you.
In snow, ice, or heavy rain, you should be prepared to drive more slowly. You should keep up with the traffic, but those bad road conditions make everything more slippery.
If you’re not taking steps to keep yourself safe in bad weather, you’re being negligent.
6. Driving With Known Medical Issues
This one is tricky. It’s legal for people with medical issues to drive, but if those medical issues can impair their driving, they’re being negligent.
People with impaired vision need to wear glasses or contact lenses or else they’re driving unsafely. Drivers need to be able to see the road, other car, pedestrians, and potential hazards.
If a driver has any type of medical condition that could cause them to lose consciousness and they aren’t receiving medical care, they may be driving negligently.
Unfortunately, this isn’t “fair,” but it’s every driver’s responsibility to keep all other drivers on the road safe.
7. Neglecting Vehicle Maintenance
If you’re not taking care of your vehicle, you may be found negligent by the best car accident lawyer.
You should go to a mechanic for routine checks to ensure that your car is in decent condition. You need to check your oil, make sure your tires are okay, and make sure that your entire car is road-ready.
If an avoidable problem causes an accident while you’re driving, that’s your responsibility.
Of course, defects happen and if you had no way of preparing for your car to malfunction, that’s not negligence.
8. Basic Traffic Law Violation
Violating traffic laws is negligent behavior.
Any time someone fails to yield, runs a red light, or drives over the speed limit, they’re being a negligent driver and putting other people at risk. Even minor traffic law infractions are negligent.
It’s a sign that they’re not paying attention or that they’re willing to put others at risk for their own convenience.
Have You Experienced Driver Negligence? Get a Car Accidents Lawyer
Driver negligence can be seriously dangerous. It can cause fatal accidents. Make sure that you’re not participating in any of these negligent behaviors if you want to be safe on the road.
At O’Hara Law Firm, we want to help. Contact us today so we can assess your situation.