Drivers who are young with reckless, irresponsible, and impulsive behaviors, as well as older drivers who are impaired or under significant levels of stress, are in a higher risk group of drivers likely to be involved in highway traffic accidents.
Personality Traits Linked to Highway Accidents
Studies show that common personality factors are often associated with a higher risk of vehicle accidents. Research on driving behaviors and traffic accidents suggests that certain drivers may be more “accident-prone” due to personality traits, as well as driving skills. The Accident Proneness Model, a study of behaviors linked to increased accidents, states that certain individuals are always more likely than others to sustain accidents, even when they are exposed to equal risks as other individuals.
The Accident Proneness Model discusses a link between personality traits and increased accidents, rather than viewing an accident as an isolated event. There is strong evidence that car accidents are preceded by a number of recognizable signs in a driver such as conflict, anxiety, stress, and physical and/or mental impairment. When car crashes occur, personal injury lawyers often find that one or more of these signs are common factors in the crash.
Accident proneness studies show that drivers who cause car accidents have a higher number of adverse life events that other drivers which create increased conflict, anxiety, stress, and physical and/or mental impairment in daily life. Research suggests that people who have difficulty managing life events also tend to make repeated driving errors due to bad decisions. Specific personality traits linked to higher risks of highway traffic accidents include:
- Aggressive behaviors
- Reckless behaviors
- Impulse control problems
- Disregard for authority
- Lack of empathy for others
- Self-serving attitude
In general, accident-prone drivers are less responsible and less mature behind the wheel of a car. Aggressive and reckless behaviors lead to speeding, frequent lane changes, tailgating, distracted driving, and the use of alcohol and/or drugs. Disregard for authority and rules leads to disobeying traffic signals, running red lights, and breaking traffic laws. Although personal injury lawyers see these dangerous personality traits more often in teens and young adult drivers who are less mature, older drivers who exhibit these traits can be just as dangerous behind the wheel.
Common Causes of Traffic Accidents
In 2019, approximately 38,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents on U.S. roads and highways. Another 4.4 million people were seriously injured and required emergency medical treatment or hospitalization for their injuries. Car accidents are very common and most of them are caused by human error which is often preventable. The most common causes of car accidents include:
Distracted driving is now the leading cause of car accidents in the United States. Talking and texting on cell phones, changing radio stations, using navigation systems, talking to passengers, and eating and drinking are all contributing factors to distracted driving accidents. Taking attention off the road for a few seconds can result in a deadly crash. Accident reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), show rear-end crashes as the most frequent type of distracted driving collision, accounting for approximately 29 percent of all crashes.
Speeding is the second most common cause of accidents, especially on highways. On open freeways and highways, many drivers ignore the posted speed limits when there is minimal traffic. This is a dangerous practice, even when there are few cars on the road, because freeway driving often leads to drowsy driving, especially at night. Speeding is a common factor in factor in fatal highway crashes.
Aggressive driving behaviors result in reckless actions behind the wheel. These include speeding, frequent lane changes, ignoring traffic signals, and tailgating which accounts for more than one-third of all crashes. According to Safe Motorist, 66 percent of traffic deaths are caused by aggressive driving, and 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. Personal injury lawyers frequently see car accidents caused by aggressive driving behaviors in young male drivers between 18 and 25 years of age. Many cases involve drivers who are impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.
The use of alcohol and/or drugs is the most common cause of impaired driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs increases the risk of a car crash by 36 percent. However, impaired driving can also be caused by drowsiness and fatigue. According to NHTSA, 91,000 police-reported crashes in 2017 involved drowsy drivers, accounting for 50,000 injuries and 800 deaths.
Bad Weather Conditions
Highway driving often involves dangerous road conditions, especially in bad weather. Excessive rain, dense fog, high winds, sleet and snow, and slick roads cause many accidents seen by personal injury lawyers when drivers are not familiar with road and weather conditions. Long stretches of Nevada highways can be a problem in heavy rains and high desert winds.