6 common causes of car accidents – and how to avoid them

One of the most unpleasant aspects of driving is the threat of becoming involved in an accident. While the vast majority are minor collisions and close scrapes, unfortunately, there are still many serious road accidents with fatal, or near fatal, results.

Most motorists will try to be careful when driving, but you can’t account for everyone else out on the roads. Remaining safe is one of the most important things to remember every time you sit down and start the engine to your car. Below are some of the most common causes of accidents – and how to avoid them.

1. Intoxicated driving

The government has spent millions of pounds since the ’80s on promoting drink-driving campaigns. This has resulted in the number of drink-related accidents almost halving over the past 30 or so years, although the message needs to remain prominent to avoid the numbers increasing once more.

It isn’t just drinking and driving that can put others in danger on the road. The use of recreational drugs has increased during the same period that drink-related accidents have fallen. This has posed new dangers on the road for drivers. Fortunately, the introduction of drug driving laws in 2012, along with improvements made in 2015, meant anyone found with a high level of drugs could be criminally prosecuted.

While it may seem obvious to state, the easy way to avoid an accident is to get a taxi home if you are intoxicated. Not only will you remain safe, but so will every other driver on the road.

2. Distracted driving

Improved technology in today’s cars has made travelling more comfortable and far safer than ever before. However, with more in-car gadgets being used, and our dependency on smartphones, this increases the chances of drivers becoming distracted and involved in accidents.

Road accidents caused by distracted drivers have increased by almost 25% since 2011, despite the risk of a £200 fine and 6 points added to your licence for driving while using a mobile phone. Many of us are permanently attached to our mobiles, but once you’re in the driver’s seat they should be put in airplane mode or on silent and hidden in the glovebox until the car is parked safely.

You are allowed to use a phone on hands-free, however, this has to be set up before you start driving to avoid handling the device when moving, even for a second. Taking your eyes off the road momentarily can be the difference between breaking successfully and having an accident.

Fiddling with in-car gadgets or even eating at the wheel can also cause distractions while driving. There is no law against doing either of these things, but you are potentially putting your safety at risk, and in the event of an accident you could be charged with reckless driving.

3. Driving when tired

If you are struggling to stay awake behind the wheel, then you should always pull over as soon as possible. Falling asleep whilst driving creates a danger to the driver, their passengers and any other cars around you.

Drowsiness can arrive at any time during the day – not only when driving late at night. If you have had a bad night’s sleep, or have woken up earlier than normal to drive, you may feel fatigued. Too much exercise before driving can make you tired, as can stress, or even eating a heavy meal before sitting behind the wheel.

Here are some basic rules to follow to avoid being involved in an accident due to tiredness:

  • Don’t start a journey if you are already tired
  • Stop or take a break as soon as you feel tired
  • Use a service station and not a hard shoulder to stop and rest
  • Sleep for 15-20 minutes to reinvigorate yourself
  • If you are taking a long trip, do not drive for more than 8 hours

4. Speeding

As frustrating as they may be sometimes, speed limits are there to protect every driver on the road. We live in a world where many of us feel there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. This transmits into the cars we drive and pushes some drivers to drive too fast and put the safety of themselves and others at risk. It isn’t just other drivers that are endangered though – by not adhering to speed laws, pedestrians are just as much at risk.

The basic rule to remember is that the faster you drive, the less control you have of the car – especially when it comes to reacting to an unexpected event on the road. Speed awareness campaigns have been around for decades, but unfortunately speeding is still one of the main reasons behind numerous accidents that occur in the UK each year.

Speeding regularly can also place unneeded stress onto the car. If you are leasing a car of any kind, this is something you should be aware of, as it could lead to excessive wear and tear.

5. Distracted driving

Improved technology in today’s cars has made travelling more comfortable and far safer than ever before. However, with more in-car gadgets being used, and our dependency on smartphones, this increases the chances of drivers becoming distracted and involved in accidents.

Road accidents caused by distracted drivers have increased by almost 25% since 2011, despite the risk of a £200 fine and 6 points added to your licence for driving while using a mobile phone. Many of us are permanently attached to our mobiles, but once you’re in the driver’s seat they should be put in airplane mode or on silent and hidden in the glovebox until the car is parked safely.

You are allowed to use a phone on hands-free, however, this has to be set up before you start driving to avoid handling the device when moving, even for a second. Taking your eyes off the road momentarily can be the difference between breaking successfully and having an accident.

Fiddling with in-car gadgets or even eating at the wheel can also cause distractions while driving. There is no law against doing either of these things, but you are potentially putting your safety at risk, and in the event of an accident you could be charged with reckless driving.

6. Reckless driving

While watching your speed is one of the main ways to avoid being a reckless driver, there are also a number of other things to take into consideration. Every other driver on the road is trying to achieve the same thing as you: to arrive at their destination quickly and safely. Driving is a responsibility that should be taken seriously because your actions on the road have direct consequences on others.

For example, when using a dual carriageway or motorway, use your indicator to let other drivers know you are changing lanes, and avoid moving across too suddenly. This prepares cars behind for your movement and dramatically reduces the chances of an accident taking place.

The stopping distance between cars is an important part of a theory test, but it can be easily forgotten after some time. Tailgating is one of the biggest causes of road accidents in the UK. The faster you are travelling, the longer it takes to stop the car. Staying at least two-four seconds away from the car in front will keep you and others around you much safer.

Here at Leasing Options, we offer a comprehensive insurance package that you can include in your car lease. Total Care Leasing includes breakdown cover, maintenance, accident management and more, all in one easy fixed payment to give you peace of mind.