Car Accidents: Common Causes & Prevention Tips | AIG Ireland

Every year, road accidents claim too many lives and cause countless injuries, leaving families and communities devastated. However, many of these tragedies are preventable. Understanding the leading causes of car accidents and adopting safer driving practices can significantly reduce the risk of being involved in a crash.

In this article we aim to shed light on the primary most common factors contributing to road accidents and offer practical advice on avoiding them, fostering a culture of safety among drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike.

Statistics: Road Fatalities Increasing in Ireland

In Ireland, figures from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) reveal that in 2023 a total of 184 people died in 173 fatal collisions. This is an increase of 19% on the previous year and shows a worrying trend for road-related fatalities. The numbers reveal a much higher proportion of male fatalities than female, a continuation of 2022’s increased level of pedestrian fatalities and an abnormally high amount of fatalities taking place between 8pm and 8am, when there is less traffic on the roads.

With thousands of car accidents occurring each year, the need for awareness and education on safe driving practices has never been more critical. Delving into the causes of these accidents provides insights into how many are a result of preventable behaviours such as speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence as well as many others.

 

Common Causes of Car Accidents & Prevention Tips

 

1. Distracted Driving

Not giving your full attention to the road ahead and engaging in other activities while driving, like using a mobile phone, significantly increases the risk of accidents. You are 4 times more likely to be involved in a collision if you use your phone while driving. See prevention tips below:

  • Always keep your focus on the road when driving. Constantly scan the road for hazards, monitor traffic signals, and keep an eye on pedestrians and cyclists. This proactive observation helps you anticipate and react to potential dangers more effectively. Engage your mind fully with the task of driving. Avoid daydreaming or becoming preoccupied with thoughts that could divert your attention from driving.
  • Use hands free devices sparingly. While hands-free devices offer a safer alternative to handheld phone use, they can still lead to cognitive distraction. Limit your use of these devices to essential communication only. Preferably, make calls or send voice commands only when stationary or in emergencies. Pre-set navigation and music before a trip. Set your GPS destination and music playlist before you start driving. If you need to make changes, pull over safely before doing so.
  • And plan breaks on long trips. Fatigue can significantly reduce your concentration. Plan for regular breaks to stretch, rest, and refresh yourself during long drives.

 

Tip: For the extensive list check out our tips on how to avoid distracted driving and driver fatigue.

 

2. Speeding

Exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for the current road conditions is a leading factor in crash severity. Be cautions by adhering to speed limits and adjusting your speed according to road and weather conditions are crucial practices for safe driving. These measures not only comply with traffic laws but also significantly reduce the risk of accidents:

  • Understand and respect speed limits. Speed limits are set based on the design of the road and the typical traffic conditions in the area. Respecting these limits ensures that you're driving at a safe speed relative to the road's characteristics and surrounding environment. Plus, the faster you're going, the less time you have to react to unexpected obstacles or changes in traffic. Driving within speed limits gives you more time to respond, which can be critical in preventing collisions.
  • Bad weather, such as rain, fog, snow, or ice, drastically reduces visibility and increases stopping distances. In such conditions, it’s wise to reduce your speed even further than the posted speed limits. Adjusting your speed according to road and weather conditions and slowing down helps account for the decreased traction and visibility.

Tip: These are some of the most helpful winter driving techniques for adverse conditions.

3. Driving Under the Influence

Alcohol and drugs impair cognitive and motor functions, drastically increasing accident risks. According to the European Transport Safety Council, alcohol as a factor represents 38% of all road fatalities in Ireland.

This one is extremely short and simple: Never ever drink and drive. Plan for alternative transportation if you intend to consume alcohol. Visit Citizens Information for a full breakdown of Ireland’s drink driving laws.

 

4. Reckless Driving

Aggressive behaviours, such as unsafe lane changes and tailgating, endanger everyone on the road. Practicing defensive driving is a key strategy in enhancing road safety, acting as a proactive approach to prevent accidents before they occur, which involves:

  • Staying aware of your surroundings, anticipating potential hazards, and being prepared to react calmly.
  • Maintaining calmness and courtesy, even in the face of aggressive driving, helps mitigate situations that could escalate into conflicts or accidents.
  • When encountering aggressive drivers, the safest response is to give them plenty of space. This may mean slowing down, changing lanes if possible, and avoiding eye contact or gestures that could provoke further aggression.

Remember, the primary goal is to ensure your safety and that of your passengers, so taking the high road and maintaining a defensive, non-confrontational driving stance is always the best course of action. Follow these 7 advanced driving tips from experts to ensure your road safety at all times.

 

5. Night Driving

Limited visibility at night increases the risk of accidents. As mentioned previously most road accidents happen between the hours of 8pm and 8am, despite there being less people using the roads. Driving at night presents unique challenges, notably limited visibility, which significantly heightens the risk of accidents. Following these safety measures is crucial:

  • To navigate these challenges safely, it's crucial to use your headlights correctly — ensuring they are on and properly adjusted to illuminate the road ahead without blinding oncoming traffic.
  • Additionally, reducing your speed is a prudent measure as it compensates for the decreased visibility and reaction time.
  • An increased following distance is also recommended; it provides more time to react to the actions of the vehicle in front of you, which is particularly important when stopping distances are harder to judge in the dark.

By adhering to these prevention tips, drivers can substantially mitigate the risks associated with night driving, making the roads safer for themselves and others.

 

Conclusion

Safe driving is everyone's responsibility. By understanding and actively working to prevent the most common causes of car accidents, we can make our roads safer for all users. Share this information with friends and family to spread awareness and encourage safer driving habits.

Together, we can significantly reduce the number of accidents and save lives. And if you do find yourself in an accident, follow these procedures to reduce the risk of tragic circumstances.

In addition to safe driving practices, having the right car insurance coverage is crucial for peace of mind on the roads. At AIG, we provide breakdown assistance in Ireland as standard on our motor policies, and our comprehensive policies also help cover damages or injuries to yourself, others, and property.

By prioritizing safe driving and adequate insurance coverage, we can work together to make our roads safer and more secure for everyone.

Tips for safe driving:

  • Feel stressed behind the wheel? Check out our advanced driving tips from an expert and see how you can improve.
  • Driving on the motorway in Ireland requires adherence to rules for your own safety and the safety of others. Discover our guide to driving on the motorway here.

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