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Causes of car accidents - diver impairments

While there are many causes of car accidents that are not always within our control, such as black ice on the roads or poor road surface conditions, driver impairment can and should be controlled. Read more about poor road conditions.

Driver impairment may include driving whilst fatigued, drunk or drugged and while the law tries to protect us and road safety campaigns by the likes of Think! try to warn us of the consequences of driving when impaired, many drivers choose to ignore this advice, which can have catastrophic effects.

Driver fatigue

Fatigue causes motorists to be less alert when behind the wheel and essentially contributes to poor driving.

Many of us drive home shattered after a hard day's work or venture on long road trips without taking adequate rest breaks. As a result the roads are full of sleepy drivers who risk causing car accidents which could not only harm themselves but also many innocent people around them.

Driver fatigue is up there with drink-driving where dangerous driving is concerned. Just consider the Selby rail disaster which occurred as a result of a driver falling asleep at the wheel of his Landrover. The vehicle drifted off the motorway, a consequence of around 75% fatigue related crashes, and landed on a railway track. An express train smashed into his trailer and then collided with a goods train coming from the other direction. The Landrover driver survived but ten train passengers were killed.

Around 300 people every year are involved in fatal car accidents caused by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel. According to the Brake Green Flag Report on Safe Driving (2000), 35% of motorists who travel long distances have fallen asleep at the wheel compared to 14% of all drivers.

It is thought that younger drivers are more at risk from accidents caused by driver fatigue. In fact, the Green Flag Report on Safe driving (2001) found that 64% of young drivers are likely to have driven when tired. Read more about car accident incidence rates and young drivers.

Research conducted by Loughborough University found the following results relating to car accidents caused by fatigued drivers:

Drink driving

Just like driving while tired, driving while under the influence of alcohol can decrease your awareness. It can also slow your reactions, impair your judgement of speeds and distances and lead you to take greater risks, increasing the risk of a car accident.

Around 3,000 people suffer fatalities or serious personal injuries as a result of drink drive collisions in the UK every year.

The law does not state that people should not drink any alcohol if they are intending to drive although this may be the safer option. While the legal limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millimetres of blood, the degree to which any intake of alcohol is likely to affect your driving is dependent on factors such as your weight, age and metabolism. Those that drive at twice this legal alcohol limit are at least twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car accident.

Motorists of all age groups drink and drive but young drivers are thought to be the most likely culprits. The Green Flag Report on Safe Driving (2001) states that 23% of young drivers are likely to risk driving the morning after drinking heavily the night before compared with 17% of all drivers.

As the major risk takers on our roads, men account for almost nine out of 10 serious and fatal road crashes as a result of drink-driving in the UK. Read more about car accident incident rates and gender.

Over the last 25 years the government has focused on getting these drink-related car accident rates down. Drink driving campaigns have been widespread across the media and more than half a million breath tests are carried out with around 100,000 found to be positive each year.

Technical solutions for preventing drink-driving are becoming widely available and include sobriety detectors. These are locks that prevent the ignition key from working if the driver breathes into one and is shown to have consumed alcohol.

Drug driving

Driving while under the influence of drugs also has a substantial impact on your driving performance. The effects of recreational drugs are those most discussed when drug driving is considered. However, some prescription drugs can be just as dangerous.

Before you take any prescription drugs it is wise to check the instructions that can be found inside the packaging for warnings such as "do not operate heavy machinery", in many instances this also applies to driving.

Cannabis is the most frequently traced drug and around 800,000 drivers in the UK are thought to get behind the wheel while under the influence every year.

It is thought that when compared with ten years ago, six times as many drivers who die on our roads have taken illegal drugs.

Government figures show that 18% of those involved in road crashes in 1999 were known to have been driving after taking drugs. This number has continued to rise, which was demonstrated during the first half of 2002 when Northumbria Police found that more than half of all drivers involved in fatal accidents had drugs in their blood stream.

Again, young drivers seem to the group most likely to drug drive. According to the Green Flag Report on Safe Driving (2001), young drivers are twice as likely to have driven under the influence of illegal drugs when compared to all drivers.

However, it is not always so easy to detect when a person has consumed drugs; that is you can't smell it on the breath as you can with alcohol.

But, the government has staged a recent crackdown on roadside drug tests. These are not yet as comprehensive as tests carried out in other European countries but there is hope that they will advance quickly.

Making a car accident claim today

If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a driver who was tired or under the influence of drink or drugs then you may be eligible to make a claim through us.

Our personal injury solicitors have an excellent success rate when it comes to dealing with car accident claims. They can help you to claim for pain and suffering, loss of earnings and recover many other financial losses.

We are dedicated to getting our clients back on the road to recovery as soon as possible. We may be able to arrange for you to have top medical treatment in your area. Also, our claims advisors are here 24 hours a day to deal with your enquiries and our solicitors offer free legal advice throughout the claim process.

Thereís no risk when it comes to making a claim with us, as our expert solicitors work on a no win, no fee basis. This means that in the event your claim is unsuccessful, you wonít face any legal fees. Thatís what no win, no fee is all about.

All you have to do to start a car accident claim is call our advisors on 0800 197 32 32 today.