About 1.3 million people die, and 50 million people suffer injuries every year from road traffic accidents (according to the WHO 2021). Most of the victims of road accidents are pedestrians and cyclists. These road traffic accidents can be reduced if the common causes are avoided and safety precautions are adhered to.

What are the common causes of road traffic accidents?

Over speeding

This is the leading cause of road traffic accidents all around the world. The likelihood of a road traffic accident occurring increases by 4% with every 1% increase in speed. Over speeding also increases the chances of fatality and occurrence of severe injury when an accident occurs. The ability to judge situations and take immediate action is impeded when overspeeding.

How to keep yourself safe: As a motorist and motorcyclist, drive within speed limits of a given stretch of road, even when the road is free. As a cyclist, ride in the designated lane for bicycles and keep away from busy highways. Pedestrians should use the pedestrian walkway and always walk facing oncoming vehicles.

Driving under the influence

Driving requires concentration, and alcohol and drugs reduce or take away the focus needed to drive. The effect of alcohol, psychoactive substances, or drug use on drivers increases the risk of road accidents that lead to death and severe injuries. The risk of accident doubles with every 0.05 increase in blood alcohol level. The higher the effect of the drug, the higher the risk.

How to keep yourself safe: Do not drink and drive. If you’ve had a drink, call a friend or a cab to take you home. Stay away from the use of drugs. Don’t get driven by a drunk driver or a driver who has had psychoactive drugs. If you are in rideshare with a drunk driver in Los Angeles, make sure you alight as soon as possible and take proof for your Los Angeles rideshare accident attorneys, in case you decide to take legal action. These professionals will also be helpful if you get in an accident.

Non-use/incorrect use of safety gears

Non-use/incorrect use of safety gears (like seatbelts, helmets, and child restraints) increases the risk and severity of injuries in road traffic accidents. Correct use of helmets prevents head injuries in riders by more than 60%. The use of seat belts by the driver and front passenger reduces the risk of death by 50% during a traffic accident. Safety gears keep you in place and safe in case of a road traffic accident.

How to keep yourself safe: Always use a seat belt, as a driver, front passenger, and even back passenger. Use the helmet correctly when riding a motorcycle. Use a standard quality helmet to ensure maximum protection. When there is a child in the car, use child restraints/locks to keep the child in place.

Distractions when driving

Distractions, however minor, are common causes of road traffic accidents. The brain becomes inefficient and loses concentration when it is occupied with two or more tasks at once, e.g., driving and talking on the phone. Some of these distractions include; talking on the phone, texting, paying attention to an event on the road, adjusting mirrors while driving, animals on the road, sexual activities, etc.

How to keep yourself safe: Stay away from your phone when you are driving. If it is important you pick up a call or send a text while driving, pull up, and use your phone. Focus on driving and pay less attention to roadside events, billboards, and banners on the road. Adjust mirrors before driving and slow down for animals crossing the road.

Ignoring road traffic signs

Road traffic signs give instructions to road users and ignoring them increases the risk of a traffic accident. The most commonly ignored road sign is the traffic light. Drivers and riders often ignore the traffic light and run the red light to save time and fuel. Other commonly ignored traffic signs include; stop/slow down signs to stop or slow down before the white line, speed limit signs for a road stretch, merge sign to slow down when a road merges with another road, yield sign to slow down, and stop to allow traffic flow in another direction, zebra crossing/walk sign to stop and let pedestrians cross the road. Ignoring these signs leads to accidents whose victims are pedestrians.

How to keep yourself safe: When learning how to drive, know the road signs and actions to take with each road sign. Obey the road signs even when the road is seemingly free. A controlled speed limit and focus will help you make safety decisions quickly when driving. As a pedestrian, use the zebra crossing or overhead pedestrian walkway. Walk facing oncoming traffic.

Knowing and avoiding these common causes of traffic accidents reduces the risk of road accidents and saves lives while preventing severe injuries during a road traffic accident.

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