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5 Driving Habits That Cause Car Accidents in Michigan

We are all aware how dangerous our state’s roads and highways can be. Never a day goes past when we do not see details of a major auto accident on the news or even witness one for ourselves. In 2018 alone, there were 905 fatal accidents resulting in 974 deaths in Michigan.

While it could be argued that many accidents are unavoidable, it could also be said that many more are easily preventable. Bad or dangerous driving and distractions are major causes of auto accidents on Michigan roads. But just what are the five main bad habits that lead to accidents? Knowing them – and recognizing your own behavior in some of them – could lead to you drive more safely in future.

1.Driving Under the Influence

Drunk driving – or indeed driving while under the influence of narcotics – is not only dangerous, it is outright irresponsible. Driving statistics show that, on average, 29 people die every single day in the U.S. in an accident that involves a driver who is under the influence. That is one alcohol or drugs related auto accident fatality every 50 minutes. The financial costs of impaired driving – from medical expenses, loss of income and working days etc. – is estimated to be around $44 billion every year.

In Michigan, drunk driving is commonly known as OWI (operating while intoxicated). The legal BAC (bodily alcohol content) in Michigan is 0.o8 if you are aged 21 or over and 0.02 if you are aged under 21. Many people think they “know their limits” or try and work out how many drinks they can have and stay under that BAC limit. The simple rule with alcohol consumption and BAC is that it is not simple. Many factors can affect how your body copes with alcohol including your body mass, any medications you are on, etc.

Driving under the influence may not only cost you your license and your freedom, it may cost someone else their life. The safest solution is to not drink at all or to nominate a designated driver.

2.Speeding

It’s something we have all probably done, even if only a few miles per hour over the speed limit. Yet over the period between 2005 and 2014, speeding was a factor in almost as many accidents with fatalities as drunk driving. In fact, speeding was the primary factor in around 31% of car accident fatalities with 112, 580 deaths. Speeding can be particularly dangerous in urban areas. The faster you go, the greater your braking distance. One thing to consider is that if you double your speed, you quadruple that braking distance.

In the state of Michigan, the “default”speed limit if there is no signage is 55mph. On some stretches of interstate, there is a maximum limit of 75mph. And, as you would expect, there is a far lower limit in residential and school areas of 25mph. But what we need to remember is that we live in a state that can experience harsh winters and that winter driving can be very dangerous. When there is bad weather and road conditions, it’s advisable that you should drive well below the posted speed limit. Dropping a few miles per hour from your speed could save lives.

3.Distracted Driving

It may not seem that dangerous, taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds to answer a text or to take a bit of that sandwich in the middle of a long journey. But figures from the NHTSA (the national highway traffic safety administration) state that distracted driving cost 3,166 lives in 2017 alone. Distracted driving can take many forms, including:

  • Using your mobile phone while driving.
  • Eating or drinking.
  • Talking to other people in the car.
  • Adjusting your car stereo or GPS unit.
  • Being distracted by something off the road, such as a vehicular accident or a tourist attraction.

Much of the reason behind distracted driving is conditioning. We are conditioned to reply to a text, especially if it is work related or potentially important. Michigan is one of the 47 states that has laws against distracted driving, specifically texting or reading texts while driving. With an average of 9 deaths per day due to distracted drivers, recondition yourself to ignore texts, calls, and other distractions until you are parked up.

4.Tiredness

How often have you been on a long car journey and felt your eyelids begin to get heavier and heavier? And the lights of other vehicles on the road and road markings begin to take on an almost hypnotic quality? Before you know what;s happening, your eyes have closed, maybe for only 10 seconds, maybe for 20, but that can be all it takes for your car to wander from its path and either hit another vehicle or veer off the road.

It is now estimated that some 20% of crashes are due to fatigue. Tiredness is one of the leading causes of crashes for truck and commercial drivers. With long hours, deadlines, and often driving at night, the risk factor for these drivers is particularly high. If you feel yourself beginning to get tired while driving, don’t risk yours and others’ lives, pull over and take a break, sleep for awhile if possible before continuing on your journey.

5.Tailgating

There are many bad driving habits such as poor lane changing and not signalling that can lead to accidents. But perhaps the most dangerous behavior is tailgating. We have all experienced frustration when the car in front is driving slowly and there is no room to overtake, but only a few of us decide that tailgating is a solution to that problem. It is overly aggressive behaviour that not only intimidates other road users but also increases the risk of a collision as your braking time and distance are drastically reduced.

You should always observe these simple timing rules in regards to the car in front and never tailgate.

  • Two seconds. When road and weather conditions are good, you should allow at least two seconds between you and the car in front. The way to gauge this is to count how long between that car passing a sign or building and you passing it.
  • Four seconds. If, however, it is raining and road conditions are likely slippery, then increase that time allowance to four seconds.
  • Ten seconds. And when we are in the midst of a typical Michigan winter and there is snow and ice, increase that time to at least ten seconds.

Final Thoughts

We’ve come a long way since the 26 road accident deaths recorded in 1899. And while there has been a slight drop over 2017 and 2018, we are still seeing over 11 fatalities per 100,000 of population. No one is under any illusion that cars are dangerous, but by avoiding risky and hazardous driving behaviors, we can reduce the danger to ourselves and to others and increase the ratio of driving safety.

If you have been affected by a car accident in any way, Cochran, Kroll & Associates are one of the leading firms of personal injury lawyers in Michigan. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and to advise on how best to proceed. If you would like to book an appointment, please call us today at (866)-779-7331 or use our handy online contact form to get in touch with us.

Steve is a former criminal justice worker. With degrees in psychology and social work, he spent most of his life helping those with addiction issues before switching to criminal justice. He was responsible for writing court reports and advising judges on sentencing. He also supervised offenders, including sex offenders, in the community and carried out risk assessments and probation appraisals. He now lives in SE Asia and is working on his 5th novel.

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