Road traffic collisions are a leading cause of death and injury globally, with millions of lives lost or affected each year. While there are numerous factors that can contribute to collisions, human factors are among the most significant.
Studies have shown that up to 90% of all collisions are attributed to human error. Understanding and addressing these factors is essential for reducing the incidence and severity of collisions. In this article, we will discuss the top 5 human factors contributing to road traffic collisions and strategies for avoiding them.
Perhaps the most well-known human factor contributing to collisions is distracted driving. This refers to any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the road, such as texting, using a phone, eating, or adjusting the radio. Studies have shown that drivers who engage in distracted driving are up to 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision.
To avoid this, drivers should make a conscious effort to stay focused on the road, avoid using their phone while driving, and only engage in activities that do not require them to take their eyes or attention off the road.
Speeding is another major contributor to road traffic collisions. Driving above the speed limit or too fast for the current conditions reduces a driver’s ability to react to unexpected situations, increases stopping distance, and raises the risk of losing control of the vehicle.
In fact, speeding is estimated to contribute to approximately one-third of all fatal collisions. To avoid this, drivers should always observe speed limits and adjust their speed based on road conditions, weather, and traffic patterns.
Impaired driving refers to driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Alcohol and drugs can impair a driver’s ability to make rational decisions, slow reaction times, and decrease coordination and perception.
Studies have shown that impaired driving is a leading cause of fatal collisions, responsible for up to 30% of all traffic fatalities. To avoid this, drivers should never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and should always designate a sober driver or use a ride-sharing service if they plan to drink.
Fatigue is another significant human factor contributing to collisions. Drivers who are tired or sleep-deprived may experience decreased alertness, slower reaction times, and impaired decision-making ability, all of which can increase the likelihood of a collision.
In fact, studies have shown that fatigue can be just as impairing as alcohol or drugs. To avoid this, drivers should always get adequate rest before driving, take regular breaks during long trips, and avoid driving during times when they would normally be asleep.
Finally, aggressive driving is another significant human factor contributing to collisions. This can include behaviors such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, or engaging in road rage. Aggressive driving not only increases the risk of a collision but also creates a dangerous environment for other drivers on the road. To avoid this, drivers should remain calm and patient, avoid reacting to other drivers’ behaviors, and always follow safe driving practices.
While unintentional human factors such as distracted driving, impaired driving, and fatigue are significant contributors to road traffic collisions, intentional human actions such as overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic, disregarding red lights, not stopping at stop streets, overloading, and excessive speeding have emerged as the most common trends in fatal road crashes.
Overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic is especially dangerous, as it requires drivers to cross into the opposing lane, where they are more likely to collide with other vehicles head-on. Disregarding red lights and not stopping at stop streets increases the risk of collisions at intersections, which are among the most common sites for road crashes.
Overloading, which involves carrying more passengers or cargo than a vehicle is designed to handle, can lead to issues such as tire blowouts and decreased vehicle stability, both of which increase the risk of a collision. Excessive speeding reduces a driver’s ability to react to unexpected situations, increases stopping distance, and raises the risk of losing control of the vehicle.
These trends are particularly prevalent in low- and middle-income countries, where road infrastructure is often inadequate, and drivers may be more likely to take risks due to factors such as limited enforcement of traffic laws and cultural norms that prioritize speed and assertive driving.
To address these trends, it is essential to focus on improving road infrastructure, increasing enforcement of traffic laws, and educating drivers on safe driving practices. This may include measures such as adding passing lanes to roads, implementing speed limits and speed cameras, and conducting public awareness campaigns to encourage drivers to prioritize safety over speed and convenience.
Ultimately, addressing intentional human actions such as overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic, disregarding red lights, not stopping at stop streets, overloading, and excessive speeding is essential for reducing the incidence and severity of road traffic collisions, and saving lives on the road.