Traffic congestion, aggressive drivers and bad weather are all frequent causes of accidents. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to fully avoid these potential hazards. However, being diligent about your vehicle maintenance is an easy way to avoid one of the other most common causes of crashes. The National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) states that approximately 2% of all accidents are caused by mechanical problems, which is equal to the number of accidents caused by slick or wet roads and other weather conditions.
While 2% may not sound like a huge amount, the fact is that this number is still much higher than it really should be. The vast majority accidents caused by mechanical problems could have easily been avoided had the driver taken time to make sure their vehicle was properly maintained and in good condition. In this sense, vehicle maintenance is extremely important as it could hold to key to preventing avoidable accidents.
Avoiding Accidents through Proper Vehicle Maintenance
While there might not be anything you can do about another driver’s aggressive behavior, keeping your vehicle properly maintained will still give you an advantage should you need to make any sudden maneuvers in an attempt to avoid an accident. Your steering, tires and brakes are obviously hugely important in helping you to avoid a crash, but they can also directly contribute to accidents.
Common Mechanical Problems That Can Cause Accidents
Brakes. Brake issues frequently contribute to accidents or make them much more difficult to avoid. If your brakes are worn down, your stopping time could be dramatically decreased and you could experience total brake failure. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure to have your brakes and brake fluid regularly checked and replaced as needed. If you notice your brakes start to feel soft or you can’t slow down as quickly, it is imperative that you immediately have them checked to avoid potentially getting into an accident.
Tires. Your tires can also directly contribute to accidents in a number of different ways. If your tires are bald or the tread is getting low, your car could end up sliding or skidding when you try to stop or on wet roads. Similarly, worn or improperly inflated tires could lead to a blowout that causes you to lose control.
Engine and Transmission. There are a wide number of engine and transmission problems that could potentially contribute to an accident. Sudden loss of acceleration or a breakdown could easily end up causing a crash in traffic.
Steering. Your steering system is also an invaluable tool in helping to prevent accidents. At the same time, suddenly losing power steering or steering that continually pulls to one side could easily end up causing you to crash or harming your ability to avoid accidents.
Suspension. Suspension issues often manifest themselves by causing the car to shake or vibrate, and these problems tend to get much worse at high speeds. In this case, suspension issues have the potential to cause you to lose control of the vehicle and crash.
The Impact of Mechanical Defects
All of the above mechanical problems are fairly easy to prevent through routine vehicle inspections and maintenance. Unfortunately, there are a number of other potential mechanical problems that there’s not much you can do about. Despite the constant safety testing that vehicles undergo, mechanical defects and flaws are still quite common. In the best case scenario, an auto manufacturer discovers the problem and issues a recall before any serious accidents occur. Of course, this isn’t always the case and often recalls aren’t issued until after numerous drivers have suffered serious accidents, injuries and even fatalities as a result of the defect.
The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act gives the NHTSA the power to force auto manufacturers to issue recalls for defective parts or vehicles that don’t meet federal safety standards. However, it is often still up to the vehicle’s owner to ensure that they take their vehicle into the dealership to have the defective part replaced before it causes an accident. In this sense, making sure to comply with any recalls is equally as important as maintaining your vehicle.
Driving can be dangerous no matter what you do. There’s no telling when another driver or bad road conditions will lead to an accident. However, you can still lower your chances of a mechanical failure causing you to crash and also improve your chances of avoiding an accident simply by making sure to keep your vehicle properly maintained.