Teens not imune to car crashes

Ask The Driving School Instructor: Most Common Type Of Crash

Question: What is the most common cause of car crash?

Answer: It’s hard to nail down one single cause of most car crashes but, since this is a teen blog, I’ll address the types of driving behaviors that I have seen lead to most teen traffic deaths.

In news reports that I read on teen traffic deaths, there’s a combination of three driving behaviors that lead to the deadliest teen crashes. Those are; driver distraction, speeding, and not wearing seat belts. Let’s take a look at each one individually and then look at the most common type of crash caused by these behaviors.

Driver distraction – Driver distraction takes many forms from talking with friends, eating and drinking, fiddling with the radio or ipod, and the most dangerous of all, texting. At 45 mph, if you take your eyes off the road for just  three seconds, your vehicle will travel almost 200 feet. A lot can happen in that distance and time.

Speeding – Speeding or traveling too fast for conditions reduces the time you have to react to a dangerous situation. You could be driving under the posted speed limit but still, in certain situations, (curves, darkness, rain and snow) be traveling too fast for conditions. Along with reducing your reaction time, speeding also increases the crash forces.

Seat belts – Without a seat belt, your body will continue traveling at the same speed the car was traveling before the crash. Your body could be thrown through the windshield or tossed around like a rag doll inside the vehicle. No matter what type of crash or how bad it is, you’re always safer when you’re securely fastened in by a seat belt.

So, let’s look at the typical teen crash that involves the three driving behaviors above. In the US, teens are involved in this type of single vehicle crash multiple times per day.

In the typical teen crash, teens either take their eyes off the road due to a distraction, drive too fast for conditions, or both and find themselves going off the side of the road. When distracted, they drift off the side of the road or into the oncoming traffic lane. If driving too fast as they enter a curve, they aren’t able to keep their car on the road and fly off the edge of the roadway.

In either case, the natural instinct is to quickly jerk the wheel back into the lane (over-correcting). When that happens, it has a whip-like effect that can send the car skidding or tumbling over. Without a seat belt, the driver can be thrown through the window or windshield and hit the ground at high speed. In just a 25 mph crash, a girl weighing 110 pounds will hit the dashboard with a force of almost 2300 pounds. The crash forces are tremendous.

To prevent yourself from being involved in a crash like this, slow down, pay attention to the road, and always wear a seat belt.