Can science help drivers avoid accidents?

California drivers spend many hours on the road, and many of them are involved in or witness accidents. While it is impossible to know every detail of the causes of an accident, studies are now analyzing information to provide help to drivers that might help them avoid some collisions.

A landmark study by the University of Michigan, which analyzed 6,950 accidents, is providing minute details about what happened in each auto accident. Similar naturalistic driving studies are providing additional information, by outfitting cars with sensors tracking driver movements, sonar, accelerometers and video cameras. Additionally, many drivers are also installing cameras in their own vehicles to record crashes they see and post them online.

The information available has led researchers to identify six main reasons why people crash. Sleepiness is a major cause. Drivers are tired, many not sleeping the recommended seven hours, and this causes drowsiness and falling asleep behind the wheel. 37 percent of drivers admitted that they had fallen asleep while driving at least once during their lifetime. Distracted driving, where drivers either switch lanes or leave the road altogether without noticing is another. This leads to 33 percent of car accidents. Rear-ending another vehicle constitutes another 23 to 30 percent of crashes. Losing control of the vehicle by overestimating their own driving skills is also a factor in collisions. Not coming to a full stop at a red light before turning right is also a major factor, particularly in fatal incidents where pedestrians are involved. Finally, making a blind turn or making decisions such as to speed or going through a red light, unaware of what is coming, may also lead to serious incidents.

Victims of car accidents might choose to file personal injury claims for compensation for the losses incurred in the incident. They might contact a lawyer with experience in the field, who can explain the types of claims and compensations available.

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