In 2018, more than 36,500 people in the United States died in car accidents. In Pennsylvania alone, fatal crashes claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people.

These numbers are lower than years past. Yet, they serve as a reminder that the roads could be safer. Many automakers have introduced groundbreaking technology to protect motorists and avert crashes. Drivers also can take safety into their own hands, because many auto accidents are preventable.

Let’s look at three of the leading causes of car crashes.

Speeding

Speeding remains a top factor in traffic fatalities. In 2018, driver speed contributed to 16.7 percent of fatal accidents in the United States.

Some of these accidents stem from drivers traveling far above the speed limit. Others happened due to motorists moving at an inappropriate speed for conditions. No matter the cause, speed increases stopping distances and decreases vehicle control. And at high speed, vehicle safety equipment becomes less effective.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving caused only 5.2 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2018. Yet, 935,000 non-fatal crashes – resulting in injury or property damage – stemmed from distracted driving.

While distracted driving often refers to texting behind the wheel, it applies to other acts as well. Adjusting the radio, eating and daydreaming all qualify as distracted driving. These behaviors may seem benign, but they can lead to collisions in otherwise safe conditions.

Drunk driving

There were over 9,800 drunk driving crashes in Pennsylvania in 2018. This figure represents a decrease from 2017. Driving while intoxicated puts motorists at risk because alcohol affects the brain’s ability to process information. With impaired control, drivers cannot react quickly enough to avoid a crash.

Taking safety precautions reduces a driver’s accident risk. Yet, collisions can happen to even the most cautious motorists, due to circumstances outside their control. An attorney with personal injury experience can help them navigate the road to recovery.