q The Science Behind Car Accidents - Harcourt Health

The Science Behind Car Accidents

Car accidents are an unfortunate part of life but, just like hurricanes or earthquakes, science allows the world to better understand why these incidents occur and provides insight into preventing them. Here’s the science behind car accidents.

Increase in Accidents

There are multiple reasons behind increasing accidents, but the first is simply a numbers game. There are increasingly more people, more people means more drivers, and more cars on the road increases the odds that an accident might happen.

While safety features and technology are on the rise, there’s only so much these can do. It’s still up to the driver to maintain control over their vehicle and operate it safely. Texting, alcohol, and other dangers also play an incredibly large factor.

The Driver Factor

Drivers continue to play the main role in car accidents. The NHTSA states that 94% of all accidents are related to the driver, combined with an unexpected event and a period of time where the driver was inattentive. When drivers fail to maintain focus, unexpected events become accidents.

Even with full attention, a car unexpectedly slamming on their breaks or a deer jumping out onto the road can leave no time for a driver to avoid an accident. Perception, reaction time, and the time it takes to apply the brakes can simple take too much time.

Chain Events

Any accident can feel like a stoke of bad luck, but that’s rarely the case. Timing can play a part in crashes, like the increased visibility of daylight compared to a nighttime drive, but there’s more to it than mysterious circumstances.

In most cases, it’s a series of connected events. A driver might make a small mistake, like not replacing their tires when they should have. The next event could be a rainy day, lessening the amount of traction tires have on the road. From there, another driver five cars up might slam on the brakes to avoid hitting an obstacle on the road.

This causes a chain event of braking to avoid a pileup. With slick conditions and balding tires, the initial driver’s car cannot brake in time before hitting the car in front of them. It’s chains of events like these that cause accidents, researchers have learned, instead of a one-off incident of bad timing.

Analyzing Accidents

With the help of professionals ranging from those who work as a car accident injury attorney to national organizations and more, researchers have identified three distinct elements of a crash. The unexpected event and time a driver spends inattentive are the first two, but the final is an unsafe maneuver. This can include speeding, hard braking, jerking the steering wheel, and more.

A cell phone conversation might distract a driver just enough to the point where they don’t notice another vehicle running a red light ahead of them. Speeding reduces reaction time, with even the fastest of reflexes lacking the time needed to maneuver safely. Slamming on the brakes could cause you to be rear-ended, swerving to avoid a collision could cause another in the next lane, and the list goes on.

These three elements are used in determining what causes car accidents and how driver safety technologies can help prevent these from happening. Lane assist, automatic braking, and other features are helping eliminate unsafe maneuvers while their audible warnings help keep your attention. Unfortunately, science will never be able to eliminate unexpected events. So, stay attentive and safe at all times.