If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, you might not care about the cause. You have pain and struggles regardless of the cause. However, the cause of car accidents does matter when you file an accident injury claim. The cause plays a significant role in determining who was negligent and who is liable for property damage and injuries related to the accident.
Sometimes the cause of a car crash is apparent, and a formal investigation by law enforcement or an insurance company simply confirms what those involved already know. Other times, an investigation uncovers facts, and the cause or causes of an accident emerge. Most car accidents are preventable, and they occur because of negligent driver behavior, the environment, mechanical issues, or a combination of the three.
Until you can meet with an experienced car accident lawyer to discuss your accident and injuries, we offer the following overview of common causes of car accidents in the Las Vegas area.
Remember that most car accidents have more than one contributing factor, so these causes are not mutually exclusive. For example, a distracted driver can run a red light and cause a car accident, making ignoring a traffic control device and distracted driving causes of the accident. Police reports do not always list more than one cause, so understanding the true nature of a car accident requires understanding each of the common causes that could contribute.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that several thousand people die yearly in traffic accidents because of distracted driving and tens of thousands suffer severe injuries. The traffic in and around the Las Vegas area makes distracted driving especially dangerous and one of the most common causes of car accidents in the city and throughout the area.
The NHTSA and other organizations that study driving habits and traffic crashes cannot determine the exact reason why some driving behaviors occur more in other places than others. However, our experience in representing those injured in car accidents suggests that distracted driving strongly correlates with the level of traffic in an area.
Las Vegas area traffic is notoriously heavy, especially when events are happening in town. The city regularly finds itself listed in the top 25 most congested areas in the United States annually. Drivers who are stuck in Las Vegas traffic turn to their cell phones and engage in other distracting activities that interrupt their focus, sometimes leading to dangerous and fatal crashes.
Heavy traffic also leads to more cell phone use. Drivers who are dealing with traffic congestion are often running late for an appointment or obligation, forcing them to use their cell phones to call or text someone. They might contact their family to tell them they will be home late from work, call their boss to let them know they will be late, or call a colleague because they are late for a meeting. Cell phones are convenient, but their contribution to distracted driving car accidents in Las Vegas and throughout the United States cannot be overstated.
Distracted Driving Is More than Using Your Cell Phone
Most think of cell phone use—calling, texting, checking email—when they think of distracted driving. It’s true. Cell phones are a significant driving distraction, but they are not the only driving distractions that can lead to severe traffic accidents in Las Vegas and throughout the city. Those who study car accidents and distracted driving generally define it as any activity that takes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel, eyes off the road, or mind away from driving.
Examples of common driving distractions besides smartphones that sometimes lead to Las Vegas car accidents include:
- Eating food and drinking
- Personal grooming, like applying makeup and brushing hair
- Heavy discussions or arguments with passengers
- Helping backseat passengers, especially young children
- Adjusting the A/C, seats, radio, or other vehicle features
- Focusing on an event outside of the vehicle
Distracted drivers cannot react to road hazards or vehicles that make erratic movements, sometimes leading to dangerous car accidents.
Failure to Yield to Other Drivers
The failure to yield the right-of-way to other drivers is another common cause of car accidents in Las Vegas. Failure to yield typically is not the only cause of an accident but often happens due to other behaviors.
In rare cases, a reckless driver might purposefully cut off another vehicle, but failing to yield to another car is typically unintentional negligent driving behavior. Impaired and fatigued drivers have difficulty responding to other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Similarly, those who suffer a medical emergency while driving might also fail to yield to other vehicles on the road.
Sometimes car accidents that occur because of the failure to yield occur on freeway exits and entrance ramps, but most fail-to-yield accidents happen at intersections. Intersections are planned points of conflict between those who use roads; rules of the road and traffic control devices make these points of conflict safe when drivers follow them. However, drivers who ignore the rules of the road and do not yield at intersections put others at risk for accidents, injury, and death.
Driving Under the Influence
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drunk driving has drastically decreased over the last several decades. Yet, people still drive impaired too often, especially in Las Vegas. Data consistently puts Las Vegas at the top of the list of the worst cities for drunk driving. Each year, area law enforcement make more than 4,000 DUI arrest, according to yearly studies.
More drunk drivers translate to more alcohol-related car accidents. Rideshare services and taxis keep some drunk drivers off the road, but many still choose to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to process information while driving, especially at intersections. This impairment leads to slow or nonexistent reactions. Even when a drunk driver sees they need to slow down, turn, or stop, they cannot always react in enough time to avoid a serious car accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry in the United States. They have spent ample time and money studying how sleep deprivation affects driving because truckers have notoriously demanding schedules that affect the amount of sleep they get on the road. They found that people who go without sleep for 18 hours suffer from the same level of impairment as a driver who has a 0.08 breath or blood alcohol level, the legal limit for alcohol when driving in Nevada and other states.
Drowsy driving is prevalent in the Las Vegas area because of the abundance of 24/7 casinos and other businesses. Hotel and casino employees work long hours, leading to them getting behind the wheel impaired. That doesn’t even account for those who work overnight shifts and irregular hours that go against the body’s natural time clock. Anytime someone gets behind the wheel without proper rest, they not only risk falling asleep at the wheel and causing an accident, but they face impairment that makes them dangerous to others who share the road.
Speeding typically is not the leading cause of car accidents, but it’s involved in at least 20 percent of traffic accidents in Las Vegas and throughout the United States. Car accident lawyers help find secondary causes of speeding-related accidents.
Driving faster than the posted speed limit or driving too fast for traffic or road conditions causes some motorists to lose control of their vehicle. This can lead to rollover collisions and various other types of car crashes. The NHTSA has studied the dangers of speeding and the factors that motivate drivers to speed. They found four common speeding patterns among drivers. Here is a broad description of each pattern of speeding and how Las Vegas drivers fall into those patterns:
According to the NHTSA, incidental speeders do not frequently operate their vehicles over the posted speed limit. They typically follow the rules of the road, and if they do speed, it’s usually only a few miles over the speed limit. Mild speeding is unintentional for incidental speeding.
Even though incidental speeders aren’t speeding in excess, they can still cause car crashes in Las Vegas traffic. Incidental speeders do not speed up to keep up with the traffic flow, which means sometimes they are traveling too slowly for traffic. This can interrupt the flow of traffic, leading to severe car accidents.
Situational speeders are exactly what they sound like—speeders who occasionally speed in certain situations. These drivers find themselves in specific scenarios that cause them to operate their vehicle over the posted speed limit or travel too fast for Las Vegas traffic or road conditions.
The most common time situational speeders pull out their lead foot is when they are running late. However, those who get stuck in Las Vegas traffic, oversleep, or are running late for appointments or obligations, sometimes choose to speed to make up lost time during their trip.
Some drivers cannot help but speed whenever they get in a vehicle. Sometimes they speed for the whole trip, and other times for their entire trip. Heavy traffic conditions usually make it difficult for drivers to speed, so regular speeders typically do not speed during rush hour or other events that cause heavy traffic in Las Vegas.
According to the NHTSA, some drivers speed regularly because they have created a routine that involves speeding. At one point, they started speeding at certain times on certain routes, kept speeding, and normalized their routine. For example, a Las Vegas driver might not speed on city streets but choose to always speed when they are driving on I-15.
Habitual speeders travel over the posted speed limit more often than other types of speeders. They go as fast as they can whenever they have the chance. Habitual speeding is more dangerous than casual speeding because habitual speeders rarely slow down for a hazard or dangerous situation unless traffic forces them to stop. According to the NHTSA, men and drivers under 25 make up most habitual speeders. However, habitual speeding is also frequent among aggressive drivers that completely disregard traffic laws and the safety of others who share the road.
Improper Turns and Passing
Making proper turns and passing other vehicles safely is of the utmost importance for those who want to avoid a car accident on Las Vegas roads. Noncompliant drivers cause dangerous and deadly car crashes.
Sometimes reckless driving includes improper turns or passing. Other times, drivers make bad turns or pass in hazardous situations because they are distracted or impaired. Reckless drivers weave through traffic and ignore turn lanes, potentially leading to passing another vehicle too closely or striking another vehicle when making an illegal turn.
One of the most significant issues that can lead to car accidents is the failure to use a turn signal. Unfortunately, it’s not only reckless drivers who do not use their blinkers. Many drivers fail to use their turn signals, forcing those who share the road to guess their intentions or quickly react to fast turns or lane changes, which can lead to severe car accidents.
Failure to Heed Traffic Control Devices
Some of the most dangerous and deadly car accidents happen when drivers don’t heed stoplights, stop signs, crosswalks, and other traffic control devices. Most drivers do not intentionally run a red light or ignore a stop sign, so secondary causes often play a role in these accidents.
Distracted drivers, drunk drivers, drowsy drivers, or drivers impaired in another way can unintentionally ignore traffic control devices. If a driver fails to comply with a traffic control device at a busy Las Vegas intersection, deadly crashes can happen. Traffic control devices only work when motorists comply. Any situation where a driver ignores a signal or sign, especially in heavy traffic, can cause an accident.
Regardless of the cause, a Las Vegas personal injury law firm‘s car accident attorney near you can recover compensation for your injuries from the negligent party. Call one today for your free claim evaluation to find out how.