Partial causes

Car accidents happen every day. Do a quick search on local news websites and you can find countless examples of deadly accidents and serious injuries. Every time you hear a firetruck go by, there is a better chance that it is responding to a car accident than a fire. Sometimes, it feels like the risk of driving a car far outweighs the reward.

In the effort to put an end to these accidents, many studies have looked at the root causes. Why do accidents happen? What causes two vehicles to violently occupy the same space at the same time? What can people do to reduce these causes and therefore reduce accidents?

What multiple studies have found as the reason is quite simple: Human error causes at least 90 percent of car accidents. Some studies have put it as high as 99 percent.

It is worth noting that human error was not fully involved in all cases studied, but these "motor vehicle crashes are caused at least in part by human error." For example, a roadway design could prove flawed, reducing sight lines for drivers and leading to a crash, but a speeding driver could also cause the collision by driving too quickly through the design flaw.

It is also important to note that studies do not agree on the total. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) once put it at 93 percent. A study from the UK put it at 95 percent. As noted above, another study claimed 99 percent.

What is important, though, is not the exact percentage or how many accidents had human error as a partial cause. The importance lies in the fact that mistakes by human drivers lead to the vast, vast majority of car accidents. That in and of itself helps to shed light on the problem.

Breaking it down

The thing about lumping "human error" into a single category is that it encompasses nearly every "minor" category you can think of.

For instance, if a driver gets drunk and causes an accident while driving the wrong way down the interstate, one can blame drunk driving. One can also blame human error. That is right in both cases.

If a driver starts texting while driving, leaves the lane and enters oncoming traffic, one can blame texting, distraction or mobile devices. Again, one can also blame human error.

Other errors include speeding, not stopping in time, running red lights, running stop signs, getting distracted by friends, daydreaming while driving and much more.

After an accident

If everyone simply followed the rules of the road, accidents would decline by as much as 90 percent, but it never happens. If you get hit, make sure you know what legal options you have.

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