If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you might not care what caused it. You have pain and struggles regardless. However, what causes a car accident does matter when you file a car accident claim. Fault plays a significant role in determining who was negligent and who is liable for medical bills and other expenses when accidents occur. 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. In this blog post, we'll discuss the most common causes of car accidents in the Las Vegas area and what you can do if you suffer a personal injury in a Las Vegas car accident.
Negligence is One of the Top Causes of Car Crashes
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, you may not know what caused your accident.
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, but you may not be aware of a potential defect in the driver's braking system that interfered with their ability to stop at the light. 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.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Nevada
Here are the top causes of car accidents across the state and the U.S.
Distracted Drivers do More Than Talk on Their Cell Phones
Many people think of calling, texting, or checking email when they think of distracted driving. It's true. Smartphones are a significant driving distraction, but they are not the only distractions that can lead to serious car 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 distracted driver behaviors besides using smartphones that can 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 sudden unsafe lane changes, sometimes leading to dangerous automobile accidents.
Failure to Yield to Other Drivers
Failing 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. Drivers who intentionally or intentionally 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, their reaction time is too impaired for them to avoid a serious car accident.
Driver fatigue is a real problem on our streets. 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 risk falling asleep at the wheel and causing an accident.
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 vehicles. This can lead to rollover collisions and various other types of car crashes.
The NHTSA 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 speed limits. 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 vehicle 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 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. Street racing can also be considered situational and can be extremely dangerous. However, drivers who engage in this behavior likely exceed speed limits even when they aren't racing another vehicle.
Some drivers cannot help but speed whenever they get in a vehicle. 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 young drivers under 25 make up most habitual speeders. However, habitual speeding is also frequent among aggressive drivers who 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, passes, or lane changes. 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. These actions can also signal road rage, a dangerous emotion-charged situation that puts all drivers on the road at serious risk.
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.
When Car Accidents Occur, Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Regardless of the cause of your accident, if you suffered injuries in a car crash in Las Vegas, a Las Vegas personal injury law firm's car accident attorney near you can recover compensation for your injuries from the negligent party. Call us today for your free claim evaluation to find out how.