Tampa is a beautiful city with lots to offer both residents and visitors alike. Like any major city, Tampa has its share of vehicle traffic, so you always run the risk of getting into a serious car accident anywhere or anytime in the greater Tampa Bay region.
Although understanding the causes of car accidents can empower you to take preventive measures and avoid becoming another statistic, there are some things beyond your control. Various factors can contribute to car accidents, from human error to environmental conditions and vehicle-related issues. It’s important you have a comprehensive understanding of the common causes of car accidents in Tampa and how to navigate the road more safely.
If a negligent driver or some other factor caused a car wreck that injured you or killed a close family member, you should reach out to an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer as soon as possible for a free review of your case and help in getting the compensation you deserve.
Florida Car Crash Statistics
While Tampa drivers hope to never be in a car accident, the odds are that you will be involved in one at some point in your life. Nearly 400,000 car accidents took place in Florida in the most recently reported year. Of those, more than 251,000 resulted in injuries, and 3,516 resulted in fatalities.
Even if you are a good driver, the reality is that there are plenty of events outside of your control that could cause you to be involved in a car accident, such as poor weather conditions or the negligence of another driver.
While car safety technology has come a long way in recent years, even a minor accident can leave you with serious injuries, as roughly 40 percent of Florida car accidents resulted in injuries in 2021.
Human Error Causes of Tampa Area Car Accidents
Human factors are the leading cause of most car accidents, with distracted driving, drunk driving, and reckless driving being the most common culprits. These behaviors, among others, contribute to shocking car accident statistics, such as the fact that there are an average of 101 car accident fatalities per day in the US.
So, what makes these behaviors so dangerous, and how can we avoid falling into the same traps? To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at each of these driving behaviors and the risks they pose to road safety.
Speeding is a common cause of car accidents, as it reduces reaction time and increases the severity of collisions. By driving at excessive speeds, drivers not only put themselves at risk, but also endanger the lives of other road users. These accidents account for approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities, making speeding a primary cause of accidents.
The increased force of impact in speeding-related accidents often results in more severe injuries and fatalities. By understanding the risks associated with speeding and making a conscious effort to follow speed limits, drivers can help reduce the prevalence of these tragic accidents.
Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road, such as texting, eating, or adjusting the radio. With the increasing prevalence of smartphones and in-car technology, distracted driving has become a significant hazard on Florida and Georgia roadways, contributing to numerous Florida car accidents involving distracted drivers.
But why is this seemingly harmless behavior so dangerous? When a driver is distracted, their ability to react to sudden changes in traffic or potential hazards is severely compromised, leading to collisions, injuries, and even fatalities.
It’s crucial to recognize the risks associated with distracted driving and make a conscious effort to remain focused and alert behind the wheel.
Drunk driving occurs when a driver operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, impairing their cognitive functions and reaction times. As a result, drunk drivers are at a significantly higher risk of causing collisions.
But it’s not just alcohol that can impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. Prescription drugs can also have detrimental effects on driving ability, leading to speeding and not adhering to speed limits.
If you find yourself needing to travel while under the influence of alcohol or a prescription drug that affects your driving ability, strongly consider alternative forms of transportation, such as ridesharing or a designated driver. This is especially important during poor weather conditions, which can further affect your driving ability.
Reckless driving refers to driving behaviors that pose a risk to the safety of other motorists, such as speeding, tailgating, and unsafe lane changes. These dangerous practices can expose other drivers to severe accidents, such as side-impact crashes, which are often more serious and potentially fatal compared to rear-end collisions.
But what can be done to avoid reckless drivers and the risks they pose? First and foremost, maintain a safe distance from reckless drivers and avoid engaging with them. Report the driver to the relevant authorities for further investigation. For those passionate about racing, consider joining a street racing league and only race on private roads.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions account for nearly a quarter of all motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, these crashes often could have been avoided, as most rear-end crashes are the result of tailgating.
Tailgating, or driving too close to the car in front of you, is particularly dangerous as it reduces your time to react to changing road conditions. If you are following a car too closely and that car has to stop suddenly because of a traffic jam or a sudden red light, you may not have enough distance to come to a stop before causing an accident.
Drivers should follow the three-second rule, giving themselves three seconds of distance between themselves and the next car. When driving in adverse conditions that can reduce visibility or increase stopping distance (ex: rain, low light, or fog), you should double the following distance between you and the next car for added safety.
Life is busy, and people often find themselves unable to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. While missing an hour or two of sleep each night may not seem like a big deal, lack of sleep can significantly impair driving ability. Fatigue is one of the most common causes of car accidents, with one study suggesting that drowsiness played a factor in nearly 10 percent of all accidents. A lack of sleep is the most common cause of fatigue-related car accidents.
One study found that a lack of sleep impaired driving similarly to alcohol, with drivers who only slept four or five hours in the last 24 hours having a crash risk similar to someone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) equal to or slightly over the legal driving limit of 0.08.
The crash risk associated with sleeping less than four hours compares to drivers with a BAC of roughly 0.12 to 0.15. However, even with sufficient sleep, drowsy driving can happen to anyone, particularly if you drive late at night (between midnight and 6 a.m.) when your circadian rhythm signals you to sleep.
Pay attention to what your body tells you. Don’t drive if you are tired and pull over to rest if you feel drowsy behind the wheel, as not fully alert driving can put yourself and others at risk.
Driving Under the Influence
As you are likely already aware, another common cause of car accidents is drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Sadly, this is one of the most common causes of vehicle-related fatalities, with drunk drivers killing 29 people each day in the United States. Drunk driving accounts for 28 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. This number is slightly higher in Florida at 31 percent of traffic fatalities involving a driver under the influence.
The fact is that while many people believe it is safe to drive after they’ve had a couple of drinks, any amount of alcohol will impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle. A person under the influence of alcohol struggles to focus on more than one thing, making it difficult to pay attention to their speed, surrounding drivers, and staying in their lane simultaneously.
Driving under the influence of drugs (both legal and illegal) is similarly dangerous, with 16 percent of motor vehicle crashes involving a driver under the influence of drugs other than alcohol.
Running Red Lights
As every driver is aware, cars are supposed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign or red light. Unfortunately, drivers who are in a hurry or are simply not paying attention will often fail to obey these traffic signals and signs. This reckless disregard for the law is extremely dangerous, as a driver traveling at high speeds with the right of way may not see the driver running the red light coming, resulting in a deadly side-impact collision.
About 28 percent of fatal accidents at intersections resulted from a driver running a red light. It is important never to assume another driver will stop at a red light or stop sign. Even if the light turns green, or it is your turn at a stop sign, wait to see if drivers coming from the other direction are slowing down and stopping. Waiting even a few extra seconds could help avoid being a potentially deadly accident.
While many new drivers are confident in their driving abilities immediately after getting their license, experience matters, and new drivers are more likely to get into accidents. Inexperienced drivers, particularly teenagers, do not have the knowledge and skills to help them react quickly and avoid potentially dangerous situations, putting this demographic most at risk for car accidents.
Most auto insurance providers charge significantly more for drivers under the age of 20 since they carry a greater risk to the insurer. New drivers need to be extra cautious when on the road. They should avoid driving with friends in the car, listening to the radio, or doing anything that could take their attention away from the road to ensure their safety.
Reckless driving, distracted driving, and dangerous road conditions contribute to accidents and even more so in congested cities such as Tampa. Tampa, which is already the largest metropolitan area in the state, is expected to see its population grow to 3.3 million in the coming year.
The greater Tampa area has also seen a record increase in tourism, with more than 30 million people visiting Tampa Bay in 2019 alone. These additional people mean more cars on the road, leading to a higher risk of traffic accidents.
Crashes become particularly common during heavy traffic, as frustrated drivers tend to act recklessly to attempt to save time. High tourist numbers also mean that millions of out-of-state drivers will navigate unfamiliar roads, increasing the risk of accidents.
Tampa drivers must stay vigilant and pay attention to changing road conditions and the actions of drivers around them to help avoid a potentially deadly car crash. Of course, even the most cautious of drivers may find themselves injured in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence.
Other Factors that Cause Car Accidents
Of course, not all accidents are the result of human error. Factors like hazardous road conditions from poorly maintained highways, broken traffic lights, and bad weather can cause car accidents. Bad weather, in particular, can be devastating for Florida drivers, as a strong storm can move into the area quickly and with little warning.
Heavy rain and strong winds can make it difficult to operate a motor vehicle safely, particularly at high speeds. Strong winds can cause your vehicle to veer off course or even flip over, and wet roads can cause you to hydroplane or impair braking to avoid an accident.
Drivers should stay alert and slow down in inclement weather to avoid risks. If heavy rain and wind cause low visibility, consider pulling over and waiting for conditions to improve.
Poorly maintained roads and construction zones can increase the risk of accidents by affecting vehicle handling and braking ability. Issues such as potholes, cracks, uneven surfaces, and lack of proper signage or lighting can all contribute to hazardous road conditions. These conditions can impede a driver’s ability to drive safely and can lead to serious accidents.
To navigate poor road conditions safely, it’s crucial for drivers to remain vigilant, slow down, and maintain a safe following distance. Additionally, staying informed about road construction zones and potential hazards can help drivers plan their routes accordingly and avoid dangerous situations.
Design Defects and Faulty Components
Vehicle-related issues, such as design defects and tire or brake failures, can also cause car accidents. While human error accounts for the majority of car accidents, it’s essential to recognize the role that vehicle-related issues can play in causing accidents.
Design defects in vehicles can make them more susceptible to accidents, highlighting the importance of regular maintenance and recalls. A design defect refers to an inherent flaw in the design that renders a vehicle more prone to accidents. By staying informed about recalls and ensuring their vehicles undergo regular maintenance, drivers can help minimize the risk of accidents caused by design defects.
It’s essential for drivers to be proactive in addressing potential design defects and maintaining their vehicles to reduce the likelihood of vehicle-related accidents and minimize driver error.
Tire blowouts and brake failures can lead to loss of vehicle control, emphasizing the need for proper vehicle maintenance. Issues such as punctures, blowouts, uneven wear, and balding can all contribute to tire-related accidents. Similarly, brake failures can result from worn brake pads, leaks in the brake system, or other mechanical issues.
By performing regular vehicle maintenance, including tire and brake checks, drivers can help prevent accidents caused by vehicle malfunctions. Staying on top of vehicle maintenance not only contributes to safer roads but can save drivers from costly repairs and potential accidents in the long run.
Contact an Experienced Tampa Car Accident Attorney Today
Car accidents in Tampa can result from a myriad of factors, including human error, speeding, environmental conditions, vehicle-related issues, and age or inexperience. By understanding these factors and adopting defensive driving techniques and proper vehicle maintenance, drivers can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and contribute to safer roads for all.
However, you can’t control the actions of others, and if a negligent driver caused a car accident that injured you or someone you love, contact the experienced Tampa car accident attorneys at the Fernandez Firm today for a free consultation of your claim and advice regarding your rights and options to pursue compensation.