Amongst the commonest causes of car accident are:
- Not wearing a seatbelt – costs around 300 lives per annum
- Speeding – in which around 500 people are killed each year as a result of a vehicle going too fast for the conditions
- Driving whilst at work – around 30% of serious road traffic accidents involve a vehicle being driven for work
- Alcohol or drug related – costs around 250 lives per annum
- Inexperience – over 400 people are killed as a result of the driver being too experienced for the situation
- Careless driving – more than 300 deaths from somebody being careless, in a hurry or aggressive driving
- Failure to look properly – 40% of the accident ratio results from the driver failing to look properly. Particularly vulnerable are cyclists and motorcyclists, whom drivers don’t always “see” even though they think they are looking properly.
- Loss of Control – one third of all road accidents involve loss of control.
Sudden change of weather
Driver error is the greatest cause of road accidents. Conditions play their part and driving is more hazardous in winter and wet seasons, largely because the likelihood of driver error increases from lack of experience in driving in more difficult conditions.
This week the M6 motorway was closed without warning when one foot of snow fell in one hour. It’s almost impossible to plan for changes in road conditions as sudden as this. Once a lorry had jack-knifed, all the traffic behind it had to halt because of the density of traffic on Britain’s busiest motorway. Many unfortunate motorists spent the night in their snowbound cars. In Wales a sudden hail storm caused a four car crash on the M4. Six people were admitted to hospital.
Further hazards are caused when accidents occur on motorways because drivers on the opposite carriageway slow down to look. This causes bunching of traffic behind and traffic can even slow to a stop-start flow, which is frustrating and dangerous, because vehicles lose the safety distance from the vehicle in front of them. At 30mph, thinking distance is 9 metres, thereafter stopping distance is 14 metres, which increases proportionately with speed.