happen for many causes. Often there are multiple
causes of car accidents. These can
* Excessive speed - Exceeding the
speed limit or driving faster than road conditions
* Driver Impairment - Driving under the influence
of alcohol or other drugs
* Mechanical Failure - The vehicle
can experience a problem such as brake failure
* Road Conditions - Roads can be icy,
snowy or in poor repair and other weather events
such as rain or fog can contribute to accidents
* Road Design - Some roadway areas
are dangerous unless you are prepared for them such
as blind curves and intersections or merging lanes
* Driver Distraction - Talking on
cell phones or to passengers are examples of the
many common distractions drivers face
Excessive speed has been singled out
as the single most contributing condition to
accidents and their severity. Although speed
alone is rarely the major cause of an accident it is
often a contributing factor in causing the accident
and increasing the amount of damage caused. It
is interesting to note that the amount of energy
dissipated in an accident increases as a square of
the increase in speed. In other words, a car
traveling at 40mph has FOUR TIMES the amount of
kinetic energy as a car traveling 20mph and a
resulting accident would most likely result in four
times as much damage to objects and occupants if
striking an immovable object.
Attempts have been made to force auto
manufacturers to install governors on car engines to
limit the amount of speed possible. These
efforts have been opposed by governments,
manufacturers and end users primarily because speed
and power are key selling points for many
automobiles. Also, there is little evidence
that such devices would significantly lower the
number of auto accidents and their severity.
During the gas crises of the 1970's
highway speeds were lowered significantly in an
effort to conserve fuel. This proved to also
be effective in reducing severe highway accidents.
However, after the shortage was over, the public
pressured governments to raise the lower speed
A significant cause of accidents that
falls under the "driver distractions" group is
rubbernecking. This is the practice by most
drivers to be distracted by roadside events such as
accidents or other unusual roadside activities.
The term comes from the appearance of extending ones
neck to raise the head higher to get a good view.
Obviously, a driver watching an event on the side of
the road is not paying attention to his driving and
the vehicles ahead and is at a much increased risk
of being involved in an accident.
Additionally, slowing down to look also contributes
to traffic congestion and increases the risk of
accident for those cars behind the vehicle.
Although, it is prudent to exercise
caution when there are other vehicles, pedestrians,
accidents or other objects near the road, excessive
slowing or not paying attention to the road often
are causes of car accidents.