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Common causes of car accidents and how to avoid them

Car accidents may seem unavoidable. Even experienced and safe drivers can still end up in accidents, often due to the recklessness or fault of others. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of being in a car accident by recognizing common causes for car crashes and avoiding those situations.

1. Cell phone use/distracted driving

Using a cell phone while driving is extremely dangerous and it causes many fatal accidents every year. Although texting is one of the most distracting uses of a phone, even a call diverts the driver's cognitive awareness away from the road. Drivers have also been known to check social media and engage in video calls while behind the wheel, which takes almost complete attention off of the task of driving.

To greatly decrease your risk of an accident, avoid using your phone while driving. Don't reply to a text or comment until you are at your destination, or if it is important to contact someone immediately, pull over to use your phone.

Other forms of distraction, such as eating or reaching for objects, are also very dangerous. Stay focused on the road and keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

2. Fatigue

Driving while fatigued or drowsy is another major cause of crashes. If you are planning to drive the next day, make sure to get a full night of sleep beforehand. If you begin to feel drowsy while driving, pull over for 15-20 minutes to take a short nap or drink a caffeinated beverage.

3. Failure to stay in correct lane

According to data from the Auto Insurance Center, failure to stay in the proper lane is the leading cause of fatal accidents in Illinois.

Fatigue and intoxication can cause drivers to drift out of their lane or lose focus on the road. However, even alert and sober drivers need to be aware of the lanes and the cars around them. Always signal before switching lanes. Be alert to the cars next to you who may switch lanes or drift too closely to you.

4. Driving in rainy conditions

Rainy days happen. It would be unrealistic to say that no one should ever drive when it's raining. You should be aware of weather conditions when deciding whether or not to drive though. Rain can make roads slippery, decrease tire traction, and highly decrease your visibility.

If the rain lowers your ability to see the road or others clearly or if it seems the roads are slippery, consider waiting until it slows down or clears up to drive.

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