How Do Car Accidents Happen and What to Do If You Get Into One

Samantha Amsworth is a content marketing consultant with RMD Law LLP - an Orange County, California-based personal injury law firm specializing in helping victims injured in accidents.
Last updated on: February 21, 2023
Road accidents are a major cause of death and injury, and it is important to understand what to do immediately following an incident and seek medical and legal professionals for advice.
How Do Car Accidents Happen and What to Do If You Get Into One

Globally, roads and vehicles convenience the population by offering a faster way to get from point A to point B. In short, these infrastructures are fast, reliable, and accessible to most people. It’s such an integral part of any society that most countries even set aside government funds for road infrastructure and other transport connectivity projects. 

Every year, about 1.3 million lives are lost because of road accidents. This statistic includes lives lost both at the wheel and casualties. Additionally, if the person were lucky enough to survive, they most likely would have sustained a form of injury that varies in severity. For some, the damage heals within a few months; others aren’t as lucky. 

Quick Facts on Car Accidents Around the World

Since almost every country has transport infrastructure, road accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. In a day, there are around 3,700 victims of vehicular accidents, with more than half of the people killed being pedestrians or cyclists. These individuals are referred to as vulnerable road users. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) added that non-fatal injuries immediately following an accident have impacted the lives of 20 to 50 million people. They also noted that many of these people had some disability due to their injuries. 

The most common setting for these road accidents happens in countries with low to middle-income citizens. Low and middle-income countries (LMICs) have a crash death rate three times higher than other countries. Although these countries only have 60% of the world’s registered vehicles, they account for 90% of the world’s vehicular crash deaths. 

What Are the Common Causes of Vehicular Accidents?

While there are some instances when the fault of the accident is the infrastructure itself, human error is usually the culprit for road accidents and damages. Below are some causes that eventually negatively impact a driver or passerby’s life. 

1. Speeding

Most accidents can occur because a driver is speeding. Driving at speeds higher than the speed recommended on the road can result in, among other things, the driver having a hard time controlling their vehicle. A reduced reaction time can lead to accidents in your car, yourself, or others. 

2. Driving under the influence

Another common cause of vehicular accidents comes from drunk driving. As a depressant drink, alcohol can affect parts of your brain that control movement coordination. This can lead to reduced attention, perceptual judgment, and motor skills. As such, the driver becomes virtually impaired, increasing the likelihood of an accident.  

3. Distraction to the driver

Distractions from the driver prevent them from focusing on their environment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted three main types of distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive. These translate to taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and letting your mind wander elsewhere. You can harm yourself, your vehicle, and others if distracted. 

4. Red light jumping

Red light jumping is most common in road intersections. It usually involves someone attempting to cheat a red light, hoping it’ll save them time. The downside is that you might hit someone else along the way, usually a vehicle with a right of way. Someone who continuously pushes their luck by jumping a red light risks his life and other people’s lives. 

5. Not using safety measures

It is called safety gear because it helps keep you safe during an accident. The most common safety gear in any vehicle is the seat belt. Wearing a belt is considered a mandatory step in vehicle safety and can lessen any life-threatening impact on your person and your loved ones. 

The Dos and Don’ts After a Car Accident

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you or someone else has been a victim of a road accident, you can keep the following dos and don’ts in mind. 

1. Do call the police

Calling authorities should be one of the first things you should do after a vehicular accident. This step is critical if you or the other party are hurt or severely injured. Having a police officer present can also help you document the accident and mediate the tension between the two parties. 

2. Do seek medical attention

Regardless of if you came out of the accident unscathed, it’s still essential to have yourself checked by medical professionals. Some accidents can have a victim fine at first, but eventually, the injuries will show themselves. These include internal injuries or damage to soft tissue.  

3. Do get information on the other party involved

As much as possible, you should also know some information about the other driver involved. Ask for their basic information, like name, contact information, and address. You should also note the other vehicle involved in the accident, particularly the make and model, car plate, etc. 

4. Don’t move the vehicle

For documentation purposes, it isn’t advisable to move your vehicle unless authorities state otherwise. This ensures that they preserve vital information or evidence until granting permission that you can transport the car. Likewise, all drivers and passengers of the accident should stay put until authorities arrive. 

5. Don’t put yourself in danger

You’ve already survived the worst part of the ordeal, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe and cleared. If you notice your vehicle is unsafe, ensure that you exit the car as quickly as possible so you don’t put yourself in more danger. 

6. Don’t agree to a settlement without legal representation

After an accident, you might not be in the best mindset to tackle any legal activities yourself. It’s always a better idea to consult with your attorney so they can help you file for car insurance claims. 

Safe Journeys!

Although you can’t entirely avoid the risk of a car accident, it’s essential to understand what you should do immediately following an incident. Apart from ensuring you and everyone involved is okay, you should also seek medical and legal professionals since they’ll guide and advise what to do next.