There are more than 253 million cars and trucks on the road in the USA alone. Today, many of us drive to work or use an automobile to drop the kids off at school and run errands. Whatever you use your car for and however far you travel, it’s important to drive safely. If you were asked questions about your driving skills and your behavior behind the wheel, what kinds of answers would you give? Are you a good, dependable driver or could you be posing a risk to yourself and others on the roads? 

What causes car accidents?

Although there have been major improvements in road safety in the US in recent years, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that there is still a long way to go. Figures show that the US has the highest crash rate of all high-income countries, with an average of 90 people dying in crashes per day. Countries including Spain and Denmark have seen a decrease in rates of fatal crashes of between 63 and 75 percent in contrast to the US where there was a reduction of 31 percent between 2003 and 2016. If the US was performing as well as other countries, the CDC estimates that an extra 18,000 lives could have been saved in that time period.

It is estimated that nine out of ten car crashes are caused by driver error. When you’re driving, you’re not just responsible for your own safety. You also have a duty to respect the rules of the road to protect others around you. The most common causes of accidents include:


Speed restrictions may be viewed as a buzz kill by some, but they are there for a reason. Research shows that if you have a crash at high speed, you’re much more likely to sustain life-changing or fatal injuries than if you crash at a low speed. On an open, straight road, there may be few hazards around, and it’s safe to drive at a higher speed, but if you’re trying to negotiate a narrow, winding road in a residential area, it makes sense to reduce your speed. Pay attention to signs at all times, so that you are aware of the legal limit and you can adjust your speed accordingly. If you drive too fast, you run the risk of incurring fines and driving penalties, as well as putting your own safety and that of others at risk. 


How often do you see people driving when they’re on the phone, they’re talking to passengers or fiddling with the navigation system or the radio? When you’re on the road, the environment can change in an instant, and you may need to make split-second decisions. A child on a bike or an animal may run into the road, a car may appear out of a junction at the last minute or somebody in front of you may stop suddenly or veer off the road. As a driver, you need to be able to react quickly, and you won’t be able to do this if you’re messing around with the entertainment system or you’re trying to send a text message. Pay attention to the road ahead and the vehicles around you at all times. If you do like to make calls in the car, invest in a hands-free set or sync your phone so that you can use voice control. If you need to make an important phone call and you may be talking for a while, pull over in a safe place. 

Dangerous driving

When you hear the words dangerous driving, you usually think of cars careering around corners on two wheels and burning tracks down the highway at speed. These are examples of dangerous driving, which could result in car accidents, but they’re not the only examples out there. Driving too slowly, failing to use your mirrors and signals and veering out of your lane can also increase the risk of accidents. If you cause a crash and you were driving recklessly, it’s worth bearing in mind that you could face legal action. It’s a good idea to visit for more information about the legal stipulations of careless driving if you are worried about being involved in a road accident or you’ve been injured as a result of another driver’s negligence. Keep an eye on your speed, always go through the relevant checks before you move your car, and be aware of other drivers around you. Ask yourself if it’s really worth showing off or seeing what a car can do if there’s a risk of injuring somebody or ending up with a fine or even a prison sentence. 

Adverse weather conditions

Research based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that rain is the most dangerous element when it comes to crashes in adverse weather conditions. Driving in the rain increases your stopping distance, it can make it difficult to see clearly, and it can cause the surface to become slippery. If you are driving in the rain, turn your windscreen wipers on, reduce your speed, use your lights, and keep well back from the vehicle in front. Remember that it will take you longer to stop if you need to brake urgently. If you’re in the midst of a storm and it’s pouring down, and you can’t see a foot in front of you, pull over as soon as you can find a safe place, and wait for the rain to pass. Driving in ice and snow can also be incredibly hazardous. If the weather forecast is very bad, listen to advice from experts and stay at home unless your journey is absolutely essential. You may also find this article useful If the roads are icy, and you start to feel the car slipping or skidding, steer into the skid and brake gently. Avoid slamming the brakes on, as this can cause the wheels to lock and the car to jump forward. 

Drink driving

No matter how long you’ve been driving or how well you know the roads, there are always hazards lurking. Even if you’re a safe and experienced driver, there may be instances when you need to react very quickly. Drinking alcohol affects your reaction time, and it can also have an impact on your ability to make sound judgments. If you’ve been drinking, you may not be able to react fast enough, you might find it more difficult to concentrate, and you may take risks you would never even consider taking if you were sober. If you are drinking, arrange for somebody to give you a lift home or book a cab. You may think that it’s fine to take a 2-minute trip down the road after a couple of glasses of wine, but this decision could have disastrous consequences. If you cause an accident or you’re pulled over by police officers, you could lose your licence and face legal action. 

Driving tired

We all have days when we struggle to keep our eyes open. If you’re tired, one of the worst things you can do is get into the driver’s seat. You may lose concentration, you might be unable to react and even worse, you may even fall asleep at the wheel. If you start to feel sleepy, pull over and take a break. Stretch your legs, get some air, have a coffee or even take a nap. 

Are you as safe a driver as you thought?

You may have always thought that you’re a careful driver, but perhaps you may not be so sure after reading the list of common driving errors. Be honest. Have you ever neglected speed restrictions, driven when you’ve had a drink or tried to make a journey when all you want to do is sleep? Next time you get into your car and you hit the open roads, think about the impact of the decisions you make and always bear in mind that it’s not just your safety at risk. If you hit another car or there are pedestrians around, you may have to live with the consequences of harming others. Driving by the book may not always be the fun option, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

If somebody asked you if were a dangerous driver, what would you say? The vast majority of people would automatically answer no, but statistics show that more than 90 percent of car crashes are caused by driver mistakes. If everyone paid attention to the rulebook, thousands of accidents could be prevented every year. Next time you take your car for a spin, think carefully about the way you drive and make sure safety is always a priority. It can be tempting to drive at speed or try and overtake a car that is going too slowly, but weigh up the risks of every move you make. If you make a mistake and you’re guilty of dangerous driving, you may end up regretting your actions for years to come.