Although it may come as a shock to many drivers, the UK does in fact have some of the safest roads in the world. According to recent research by the Department for Transport, there was a total of 170,993 road incidents reported to the police in 2017. While this is still a huge figure, this is actually the lower ever recorded level of accidents and 6% lower than the 2016 total.
As the total figure of road accidents is finally beginning to decrease, as drivers, we must all make a conscious effort to ensure that we contribute towards lowering the risk of accidents. It is important to spend time understanding the most common causes of car accidents and how we can remain vigilant and safe at all times. Collisions can be caused due to anything from a lapse in judgement to a driver who is over the legal alcohol limit.
What Are The Most Common Causes Of Car Accidents?
Before we go into the nitty-gritty of car accidents, there are a few things you must always do to ensure your car is safe on the road. As a driver, it is your responsibility to take your vehicle for its annual MOT and service. Failing to take your vehicle for an MOT is breaking the law, and if caught, you run the risk of facing a £1,000 fine. Although car servicing is not a legal requirement, it is highly recommended as it helps to detect potential faults that could lead to dangerous consequences if left unsolved. If you’re looking for a reputable BMW Service Centre in Milton Keynes, please feel free to contact us to book your servicing!
Even if you are an experienced driver and have been on the roads for many years, there will always be ways that you can improve the safety of both yourself and surrounding road users. Not only should you ensure to follow the road laws, you should also prepare yourself for tackling driving in different conditions. For more information on the main causes of car accidents along with how to avoid them, keep reading!
A driver who is distracted, whether by a mobile phone or even chatting to passengers, becomes incapable of giving the road ahead their full attention; making distracted drivers one of the leading causes of serious accidents in the UK.
For more than ten years it has been illegal to use your mobile phone while driving, however, to this day, drivers continue to push their luck and disobey the law. As of 2017, because of the increase in collisions caused due to distractions, the consequences of being caught on the phone while driving has doubled. If you are caught by police or pictured on a speed camera on your mobile phone not only will you face up to 6 points on your licence and a £200 fine, but could potentially lose your licence altogether. Those who are in their first two years of driving are only permitted 6 points before their licence is revoked meaning new drivers could lose their licence before they even have a chance to enjoy it.
If your phone or sat nav is not positioned in the right place or is obstructing your view, you can also receive three penalty points on your licence. As well as while driving, you can also receive all of the penalties previously mentioned when you are stopped at traffic lights, queuing in traffic or have the engine of your vehicle running.
Drivers are still permitted to use their mobile phone for navigation or to stream music; however, it must be connected to a hands-free device and cannot be touched at any point throughout the journey,
Mobile phones are not the only cause of distractions. Eating, drinking, reaching for a fallen object or even applying makeup all fall under the category of distracted driving. All of these things require you to take your attention away from the road, therefore it is imperative you eliminate any distractions and give the road your undivided attention. Police officers are legally allowed to pull you over and question you if they think that you do not have your full attention on the road. They inspect the driver’s lane discipline to identify whether the driver is causing a risk to surrounding road users.
Speeding or Reckless Driving
Changing lanes at the last minute, without signalling or driving too quickly, can be classed as reckless driving as those around you cannot always predict what you are going to do. Drivers who cut into traffic and drive carelessly are some of the main culprits for causing potentially fatal accidents.
The severity of the result of reckless driving is multiplied for those who are speeding whilst doing so; the faster you speed, the bigger impact you will experience. While cars are built to withstand a high amount of impact, if you are driving at a high speed, they cannot always keep you, passengers or bystanders, safe. If you see a speed limit, stick to it, as it is there for a reason.
The consequences of driving over the speed limit varies on the percentage you were over the limit. Those who are caught fall into one of three categories, band A, B or C:
- Band A: Driving up to 10mph over the speed limit. 3 points on licence and fine of 50% of monthly income.
- Band B: Driving 11 – 20pmh over the speed limit. 4 points on licence and fine of 100% of monthly income.
- Band C: More than 20mph over the speed limit. 6 points on licence, fine of 150% of monthly income and driving ban for up to 56 days.
Drink driving is one of the worst driving offences you can commit. There has been a significant amount of advertising from THINK!, who campaign to raise awareness of the damages drink driving can cause. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 1.2 million drivers were caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in 2016 alone.
While an individual is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they become less aware of their surroundings and incapable of responding to upcoming dangers. There is also a severe lack in coordination, which means that operating a vehicle and coordinating the feet, hands and eyes becomes incredibly tricky. Excessive alcohol can also begin to impact vision making surroundings blurry and the ability to judge distances difficult.
Although there is a legal limit in place, alcohol affects different people in different ways, which means that what might not affect one person, can be stronger to another. This means that we always recommend avoiding alcohol altogether if you know you will need to drive in the next few hours. If you are going somewhere where you will be drinking, take a designated driver with you or leave the car at home and take an alternative form of public transport.
Adverse Weather Conditions
Living in the UK means that we often experience a range of adverse weather conditions, all of which have an impact on your ability to drive. Bright sunshine or heavy rain, in particular, disturb a driver’s vision and impair how far in front they can clearly see. Rainfall will also affect your overall stopping distance, which makes it imperative to ensure that you do not tailgate other drivers. Tailgating is a huge contributing factor towards collisions during wet weather conditions as without adequate distance behind the vehicle in front, drivers will not be able to carry out an emergency break in time.
If you know that the roads are icy, there is heavy rain or even sleet on the horizon; there are a few precautionary steps you can take to ensure that you remain safe. Always make sure your tyre tread is of the recommended amount; this is a depth of a minimum of 1.6mm. To check whether you meet the legal tread depth, we suggest carrying out the ’20p Test’. Through research, it has been concluded that the band around the edge of a 20p coin perfectly meets the minimum tread depth. So, to check, all you’ll need to do is place the coin in the groove of your tyre and inspect whether the depth is above or below the band. If your tread reaches below the band, you do need to replace your tyres. When driving in trickier conditions, always take your time, do not go over the speed limit and allow yourself extra time in the event of road closures.
When you are tired, you lack the concentration you would naturally in the middle of the day. If you do feel tired we always recommend asking someone else to drive, take a nap before or keep the car as cool as possible. Research has shown tired drivers cause almost 20% of car accidents, a lot of these occur late at night or early in the morning. Those who end up falling asleep at the wheel are often already trying to fight off extreme exhaustion or tiredness. Unfortunately, tired driving is much more likely to cause a serious accident in comparison to some of the other causes we mentioned, as you will have no control over the vehicle.
Always Be Attentive
When it comes to driving you should always be giving the road your undivided attention. It would be devastating not only to you, but also to other road users if you were to cause an accident. If you do get easily distracted there are now downloadable apps which tell your phone when you are driving. So if you go to touch your phone while you are driving it will inform you, you cannot complete an action, including skipping music. If you’re interested in this app download Drivemode for Android and Apple.