Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. This is particularly true in a state as population dense and with as many drivers as New Jersey. According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, an average of 320,000 crashes are reported per year in the state.

New Jersey State Police say there have been 10 fatalities in Monmouth County alone in 2020. In Middlesex and Ocean counties, there have been 17 and 9 fatalities, respectively. With the busy roads that the summer months bring, we all need to be increasingly careful and aware of our surroundings when driving on busy toll roads. These include the Garden State Parkway, Atlantic City Expressway, and the New Jersey Turnpike, as well as other highways such as Route 70, Route 36, Route 18 and throughout busy towns like Eatontown, Toms River, Neptune, and Long Branch.

Accidents happen, but most are a result of human error and are preventable. It’s important to be knowledgeable of common auto accident causes in order to avoid being involved in such accidents.

Human Error

The good news about the majority of accidents being a result of human error is that we can each do our part to drive smarter and more carefully. We cannot prevent others from driving recklessly, but we can be alert and aware of those around us and avoid as many accidents as possible.

Distracted Drivers

In the age of the smartphone and touchscreen systems in most modern cars, drivers are often distracted at the wheel. It’s important to put phones down at all times and leave touch screens alone while driving, particularly on busy roads. While vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths from vehicle crashes are all declining, crashes due to cell phone use continue to rise. Despite improved technology in our cars and laws put in place to prevent us from using our mobile devices while driving, crashes caused by cell phone use are only happening more often. As mobile devices become larger, more addicting, parts of our lives, it’s never been more important to remain focused on the road and the drivers around us.

Reckless Driving and Tailgating

Even when we aren’t distracted while driving, many of us still are very irresponsible behind the wheel. Driving recklessly, ignoring traffic laws, not using turn signals or checking blind spots, and tailgating are all careless driving habits. Not only do we need to be wary for ourselves while on the road, we need to give those around us an opportunity to react to us. If you plan to switch lanes, check your blind spot and signal before doing so, allowing whoever you may be switching in front of to slow down, giving you abundant space. Similarly, when we tailgate, we don’t give ourselves enough time to brake or move out of the way if an accident occurs in front of us, creating a domino effect that not only puts ourselves in harm’s way, but also the drivers we share the road with.

Young and Inexperienced Drivers

Many young and inexperienced drivers are far safer than the average driver. Unfortunately, even when being careful, many young drivers don’t know how to react in certain situations on the road. Actions like yielding and merging can be very stressful for those who lack the experience of older drivers, as it can be very tough to determine when to slow down or accelerate. When we drive, we need to be conscious of the simple fact that not everyone has the same skill level behind the wheel. As such, it’s important to be mindful of those around you and ready to react if a driver nearby makes a mistake. No matter how careful we are behind the wheel, we all make mistakes.

Unsafe Speeds

There’s a reason speed limits exist. Many experienced and inexperienced drivers have a tendency to ignore speed limits and go at their own pace, often resulting in driving at much higher speeds than anyone else on the road. People who drive below the speed limit, in particular on highways and other busy roads, also create unsafe conditions for other drivers. By going too fast or too slow, the entire flow of traffic may be disrupted, causing many to switch lanes, change speeds, or come to a stop entirely. It’s important that we drive at predictable and consistent speeds so that we all know what to expect on busy roads.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving is dangerous and difficult enough without bringing alcohol, drugs, and over-the-counter and prescription medications into the equation. Driving under the influence is simply dangerous and irresponsible. With buses, trains, and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft available just about anywhere, especially throughout New Jersey, it simply isn’t worth the risk of driving under the influence.

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions are often unexpected, but it is important to see your doctor and make sure you are healthy enough to drive.

Being Lost or Not Knowing the Local Laws

Being unfamiliar with your surroundings can be a huge problem and cause of accidents, especially in busy areas. Focusing on what’s in front of you and knowing when to stop or keep driving is more important than getting somewhere on time. You can always turn around if you miss your turn or stop, but not if you get in an accident making a late stop or turn.

Mechanical Failure

Sometimes cars simply fail or die. Make sure you get your car inspected often, so it is in the best condition possible.

Weather

No matter what time of year, weather can greatly affect the conditions of the roads and our ability to drive on them. In New Jersey, we really get a taste of all types of weather. Some of the weather conditions that have been known to cause accidents are rain, slow and sleet, icy roads, thick fog, and even bright sunshine. These weather conditions all affect driving in different ways, whether it’s our vision or how well the car drives. When the weather is bad, every driver on the road needs to be careful and aware of the road and those on it.

The trial attorneys at Judd Shaw Injury Law offer assistance to all motor vehicle accident victims in New Jersey and New York. If you are suffering from injuries sustained in an accident, call Judd Shaw now. If you do not recover, you pay no attorneys’ fees – that’s our No Fee Guarantee! Schedule a free initial consultation now by calling us at 732-888-8888 or emailing demandjudd@juddshawinjurylaw.com.

Originally published 12/03/19; updated 04/28/20