It is a common belief that the big contributors to car accidents are alcohol intoxication, dangerous roads, excessive speeding, aggressive driving, and bad weather. Although these certainly cause accidents, statistics point to two other factors that are more deadly:
Driving is a dangerous activity. Motorists on the road routinely drive two tons of steel at speeds far greater than a horse can gallop. Striking a tree, going off the road, or being hit by another car, can cause serious injury or death. Thousands of motorists die in the U.S. each year in car accidents. Given this, people should at the very least feel a touch of nervousness when they drive. However, the opposite is true. People drive in a relaxed frame of mind, so relaxed that cell phone conversations, texting, grooming, eating, and even day dreaming displace the attention required for safe driving.
Car design is part of the reason for this because it insulates the driver from the dangers of the road. Other than visual cues and the speedometer, the sense of speed and other road dangers are dulled by the quiet, smooth ride of a car. Comfortable upholstery and entertaining music further insulate motorists from the reality of their situation. Because of this, motorists don’t give driving the focus that’s appropriate for such a dangerous activity.
The more one performs a task, the greater their proficiency. This proficiency means that reflexes and muscle memory can do what once required intense focus and effort. The daily routines of most people are complicated, yet because they have done them so often, they can sail through their routines with barely a thought. This is often referred to as autopilot mode. This is a very useful mechanism because it enables people to focus on things remote from what they are doing at the moment. However, this works against them when driving.
Driving on autopilot readily gets people to destinations when it’s done along routine routes. What it fails to do is prepare them for the unexpected. Because they aren’t actively focused on potential dangers, their minds simply aren’t in gear to cope with an unexpected hazard. This autopilot mode makes distracted driving possible.
The above two factors are the reasons why most car accidents occur close to home. While the exact statistics vary depending on the source, approximately half of all car accidents happen within five miles of the home while about 70 percent of all accidents occur within ten to fifteen miles of home. Because people do most of their driving in their local neighborhoods, the familiar environment makes them feel safe and complacent. Most of the routes they use are very familiar and are often driven on autopilot.
If you have been injured by a distracted or careless driver and need a car accident attorney, Lewis & Keller can help you get the compensation you deserve. We have helped car accident victims throughout the Greensboro and Winston-Salem areas. Contact us today for a free consultation.