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4 critical reasons for car accidents

Car accidents are an incredible risk, injuring or killing tens of thousands of people every year in the United States alone. Every time you get behind the wheel, you're putting yourself at the mercy of scores of other drivers. Some don't have licenses, some are drunk behind the wheel, and others are in such a hurry that they won't take your safety into account.

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Most people don't think twice about accidents when getting in the car. They just think about the errands they have to run or how to get where they're going. By the time you get into your 40s, though, with a family to care for, you may start thinking about the odds of a wreck a bit more often. Below are four of the major reasons that they keep happening:

1. Drivers are tired.

All too often, people push themselves when they're tired and do more than they should. Maybe it's a tired trucker who has been on the road for too long, or maybe it's just a tired student coming home after a late-night class. People don't often consider feeling drowsy enough of a reason not to drive, and the U.S. National Traffic Safety Administration says this leads to about 100,000 annual accidents.

2. Drivers are drunk.

The time when you drive helps determine your exposure to drunk drivers. One study found that one third of all deadly accidents involved alcohol on week days, but that number jumped to 53 percent during the weekend. People know that drunk driving is a bad idea, but they'll often rationalize it or think that one time isn't enough to put them at risk.

3. Drivers are distracted.

There are many distractions in the car. Maybe it's a commuter trying to shave or put on makeup while driving. Maybe it's a teen sending a text message. Maybe it's a tourist trying to read the GPS. What's more is that many people actively want to be distracted -- listening to music, for example -- because they get bored while driving.

4. Drivers are aggressive.

People often think of aggressive driving and road rage as the same thing. They aren't always identical. Road rage takes things to the next level, but aggressive drivers are also those who weave in and out of traffic, tailgating one car after the next while passing in small spaces, and generally take risks. They're often speeding and in a hurry. They're barely on the edge of control.

Thinking of your family and understanding the risks, you may not engage in any of these behaviors. Unfortunately, you have to remember that the risk is still high. Thousands of people are hurt or killed even without making mistakes, just because others do. When you're involved in a wreck, you must know what rights you have to financial compensation.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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