By its very nature, road accidents are perilous and fraught with injuries and fatalities. But how can you define a road accident? Wikipedia describes road accidents or traffic collisions as a vehicle colliding with ‘another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree, pole or building.’
Now that we have a better understanding of what a road accident is, it is important that we look into the elements of what causes a road accident. It is often said that ‘Knowledge is power’ – therefore, having a clearer picture of what a road accident entails can prove to be advantageous. Having this information would enable people to aptly perceive the root cause of such collisions and introduce appropriate interventions to curb their occurrence.
Essentially, road accidents have three elements – the human, the vehicle, and the road environment.
- The Human – Humans are probably the most important element of a road accident. They are after all the ones behind the wheel, controlling the movements of the vehicles. When a human chooses to become a road user, they are inherently bringing along a lot of human factors that might culminate in a road traffic accident. Humans as drivers are governed by the laws of the authority and the virtues of road safety. They make other road users, along with themselves, vulnerable to road accidents by turning a blind eye to prescribed habits and practices. Whether a driver unintentionally commits an error or consciously refuses to comply with the regulations, the end result would be disastrous. Improper road behaviour such as excessive speed, phone usage, harsh cornering, etc., and a penchant for violating basic rules are the biggest human factors that contribute to road accidents. Proper control, safe driving habits, and adherence to rules will ensure lesser threatening encounters with other vehicles, people, or stationary objects.
- The Vehicle – Without the vehicle, would there even be a road traffic accident? Therefore, vehicles are also a huge determinant of road accidents. Defective wiring, faulty engineering, and improper maintenance (unequal tire pressure, low levels of mobile or coolant, etc.) of vehicles may also lead to road accidents. Road safety of drivers and pedestrians is compromised when situations such as brake failure, oil leakage, and engine overheating occur. Generally, people are not aware of the fault in their vehicle until the strategy strikes and as such, these faults are never properly addressed. At times, humans cannot control the deficiency or weak point of the vehicle which ultimately leads to road accidents.
- The Road Environment – The Road Environment is impacted primarily by two factors: road engineering and weather conditions. In terms of road engineering, faulty road design and infrastructural deficits may eventually lead to road accidents. For example - blind intersections, single lanes with a sharp curve, improper acceleration and/or deceleration lanes, sudden drop lanes, inadequate radii of curvature, etc. are some road engineering defects that cause vehicles to crash. Along with such improper geometrical design and poor alignment, low-quality materials cause quick wear and tear on the roads as well, further decreasing the level of road safety. Harsh weather conditions such as rain and snow also hamper the road environment, rendering it slippery and thus, more prone to road accidents.
Interaction Between Elements
It is important to point out that while these individual elements cause accidents, the interaction between these three also becomes contributory factors to this road safety menace.
Interaction between the human and the vehicle factor may present itself in many forms such as harsh turning with unequal tire pressure or overspeeding when the brake oil is insufficiently filled. In terms of the human factor and the road environment, interaction manifests itself in the form of harsh cornering at a blind junction or on a slippery road.
Various interactions can be forged by intermingling the equations among these elements. But no matter the elements involved, the ultimate result would be road accidents leading to non-fatal injuries and sometimes, even death.
A study has revealed the following statistics for Prime causes of Road accidents and their percentages
Human factors alone: 65%
Human + Road: 25%
Human + Vehicle: 5%
Road factors alone: 2%
Vehicle factors alone: 2%
Human + Road + Vehicle: 1%
- Source – Traffic Engineering and Management, Purbanchal University
The table above clearly indicates that the interaction between humans and the road environment is responsible for 25% of the total number of accidents, coming second to only the first element which is humans. When it comes to road safety, all these elements individually as well as while interacting with each other leads to all forms of road accidents.
How to prevent road accidents?
Having an understanding of each of these elements and how they interact with each other paves the way for creating safer drives for everyone and promoting road safety.
Among all the factors, drivers have little to no control when it comes to the two elements of vehicle and road environment. As such, it is always advisable to work on improving the first elements. If humans take the initiative to become better drivers, follow traffic rules, and ensure safety measures such as maintaining the correct speed, abstaining from drinking or texting while driving, and conducting regular maintenance of vehicles among others, then the leading contributor to road accidents could be managed and the percentage of accidents associated with it can be curtailed.
How can SafetyConnect help?
SafetyConnect’s Driving Safety Solution will help companies that have a large field force to facilitate road safety by making sure that their field employees inculcate safer driving habits by analyzing their at-risk behaviours. This will aid the company in preventing accidents and fostering safer roads for their field force as well as others. With this, they can contribute towards minimizing the risk their drivers will pose on road and curb the human factor negatively associated with road accidents.
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