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Science reveals the top causes of car accidents

This has probably happened to you at some point or another: You are driving on the highway when traffic inexplicably slows to a crawl. As your car progresses, you see the cause of the jam--a serious roadside accident. As you pass the scene, you crane your neck to take in the details, and you wonder what could have caused such a terrible crash.

Car accidents may seem mysterious, but they do not occur without reason. Scientific methods such as driving studies and accident reconstruction have been able to examine car crashes and determine the main reasons why they happen. In this post, we will go over the top four causes of accidents as determined by recent studies.

4. Losing control of the vehicle

The fourth most common cause of accidents is drivers losing control of their car or truck. Sometimes this is due to reckless driving like making sharp turns, aggressive maneuvering or other careless actions. However, drivers can also lose control because of weather conditions or vehicle malfunctions. To avoid car accidents caused by out-of-control vehicles, motorists should drive cautiously and defensively. 

3. Poor visibility

Many drivers have encountered another car that makes a reckless move, apparently blind to its surroundings. This scenario is frightening, but not uncommon. Twelve percent of car accidents are caused by drivers who have limited visibility. A few examples of these crashes? Running a red light because the driver doesn't see any other cars, rolling through a stop sign without looking for pedestrians or cyclists and making a left turn at an intersection without checking for oncoming vehicles. Paying attention to your surroundings can significantly reduce these types of crashes.

2. Rear-ending another car

It should seem simple enough to maintain a safe distance between vehicles and brake when another driver does. Nonetheless, between 23 and 30 percent of all car crashes are caused by one driver rear-ending the vehicle of another. Drivers can circumvent this problem by paying close attention to the speed of the car in front of them and slowing down when appropriate.

1. Driving while distracted

By far, the most common cause of car accidents in the United States is distracted driving. A whopping 33 percent of all crashes happen because of distracted drivers, many of whom are texting or talking on their phones and veer out of their lanes--or off the road entirely. Distracted driving can be caused by any activity that takes the driver's attention from the road: Changing the radio station, navigating a map, reading a billboard or talking to passengers. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to distracted driving: Put the other tasks away, and focus on the roads.

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