Car Accident Causes & Prevention in Massachusetts

It is important to understand some of the causes of car accidents in order to avoid the harmful consequences of an automobile accident.

Car accidents occur at an alarming rate and are a leading cause of injury in the United States.

In order to control the increasing accident rate, many states have passed tough laws with respect to various causes of car accidents such as drunk driving. Also, motor vehicle manufacturers have installed several safety features in their vehicles to lessen the impact of accidents and save lives.

However, because the number of drivers continues to increase, these safety measures have not sufficiently stemmed the tide of car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that a car accident occurs every 10 seconds in the United States.

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Causes of Car Accidents

Some of the most common causes of car accidents:

  • Driver impairment including consumption of drugs or alcohol, tiredness, and illness.
  • Traffic violations such as running a red light or stop sign, taking a left hand turn into traffic, and speeding.
  • The age of the driver often leads to car accidents due to the inexperience of youthful drivers and physical impairments of elderly drivers.
  • Mechanical defects are one of the major causes of car accidents. Some examples of mechanical defects include defective tires, brakes, and transmissions.
  • Poor road conditions such as potholes, snow and ice, and foreign substances.

Avoiding Car Accidents

Some of the ways to avoid the potentially harmful consequences of a car accident include:

  • Helping family members and friends to avoid driving while impaired.
  • Have your car inspected by your car mechanic on a regular basis and pay attention to any recall notices regarding your car.
  • Abide by the rules of the road.
  • Drive defensively.
  • Impose restrictions with respect to the time, roads and weather conditions that you will allow your teenage children to drive.
  • Help your elderly friends and family to understand their driving limitations and to convince them to drive within their limitations.

Causes of Teenage Car Accidents

  • Inexperience: It is one thing to handle a car on a dry road in the daytime, quite another to navigate an icy road at night when you’ve never driven in snow before.  Some states require new drivers to log a certain number of hours in different conditions before they can take their road test to get a driver license.
  • A feeling of invincibility: Many teens believe it can’t happen to them. As a result, they take risks that older drivers have learned to avoid.
  • Poorly maintained vehicles: Many of the vehicles teenagers drive are smaller, cheaper cars with limited safety features or older vehicles that are poorly maintained.
  • Cell phones: Texting and driving statistics show that texting causes 1,600,000 accidents per year, 330,000 injuries per year, 11 teen deaths every day and nearly 25% of all car accidents (

Massachusetts law prohibits operators of motor vehicles from manually composing, sending or reading an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle (G.L. c. 90, s. 13B). In addition, no person under 18 years of age shall use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle (G.L. c. 90, s. 8L).

How to Avoid Teenage Car Accidents

The good news is that many of the causes of teenage accidents are preventable. Here are some steps you can take to help your teen:  

  • Make a commitment to help your teenagers develop a responsible attitude about driving.
  • Get them as much supervised driving experience as possible. Make firm schedule with them and stick to it. Keep it up until they’re ready to take their driving test.
  • Make sure they get into the habit of wearing their safety belt whenever they drive or ride – no exceptions.
  • Limit their night driving at first. The risk of a fatal crash is three times higher at night than in the day for every mile drive.
  • Keep it slow and safe for starters. Haver your teenagers avoid areas with heavy traffic until they can get enough supervised driving experience. Then you can gradually introduce them to more difficult driving situations, like highway driving, merging off ramps and driving in cities.
  • Instruct your teenager to turn off their cell phone while driving a car or, if necessary, take the cell phone away before they get behind the wheel of a car.
  • Impose restrictions with respect to the time, road and weather conditions that you will allow your teenage children to drive.

Helping your teen gain the experience they need to be safer on the road gives you and them peace of mind.

Driving in Snowy Conditions

If you must drive in snowy conditions, don’t go out until the snowplows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work. Remember to allow yourself extra time to reach your destination, go slowly and keep a safe distance from any other vehicles on the road, and brake gently to avoid skidding. Be aware that black ice can develop quickly, especially after sunset when temperatures tend to plummet. On snow and ice, it takes 3 to 12 times as much distance to stop your car as it does on dry pavement. If you do skid, take your foot off the gas, steer into the skid and resume driving only after the vehicle regains traction.

Prepare Your Car for Winter Driving

Preparing your vehicle for winter can help keep you safe, even before the snow piles up.

  • Check the vehicle’s tire pressure. Proper tire pressure can significantly increase the ability to control a vehicle.
  • Check the vehicle’s fluids, including motor oil, antifreeze, and wiper fluid.
  • Test the battery. Vehicle batteries have to work harder in cold weather. Many repair shops will test batteries for free.
  • Examine the wiper blades and replace them, if necessary.
  • Keep a roadside kit in the vehicle for maintenance and emergencies, including jumper cables, shovel, flashlight, ice scraper and snow brush, and extra windshield washer fluid.
  • Make sure the spare tire is properly inflated and that the rear window defroster works.
  • Be aware of a truck’s blind spot and spray from snow or slush.
  • Signal your intention to change lanes well ahead of time.

To minimize the instances of driving in hazardous weather, it’s important to monitor forecasts and plan accordingly. Also, remember that in many states, including Massachusetts, the law requires that all windows be clear before you drive. You need just as much, if not more, visibility in poor conditions. Your side-view mirrors, all lights, and your license plate should be brushed and cleared as well.

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