Study on Causes of Car CrashesApril 18, 2016
According to research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers are more than twice as likely to be involved in a car crash when they engage in distracting behaviors such as talking on their cell phones, texting or using a touchscreen menu on their car’s dashboard. In addition, drivers significantly increase their crash risk when they are angry, sad, crying or emotionally upset.
This is especially true for the younger population of drivers, who tend to be more easily distracted by their electronic devices, according to the lead author of the study and director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. In fact, the study findings report that if proactive steps are not taken to limit the distractions in vehicles, this population of drivers will continue to be at great risk of being involved in car accidents.
The information that the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers used came from the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study, which represents the largest naturalistic crash database available, involving more than 3,500 participants across six locations in the United States. The specific crash events studied includes minor events like tire and curb strikes, to more severe car accidents that included police-reportable crashes. While none of the crashes studied were fatal, some of the drivers sustained serious injuries.
This particular study is significant in that it focuses on crash-only analysis, which provides the most conclusive findings thus far as to the risks that drivers face. Researchers studied 905 serious crashes that involved injury or property damage. They found that factors such as driver fatigue, driver error, impairment and distraction contributed to 90 percent of the crashes. The significance of these results is that this is the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate the effect such factors have on the incidence of car crashes.
The goal is to use the data from the study to identify the specific risks and help others take the appropriate steps to ensure a higher level of safety for ground transportation users.
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