Cars are an integral part of American culture. Whereas automobiles bring convenience, luxury and speed to everyday transportation, they are also the cause of heartache and pain for the thousands of victims of car crashes each year.

While installing a dash cam can help prove your innocence after a crash, your primary goal should be to prevent an accident in the first place. Familiarizing yourself with the most common causes of car crashes is key in making sure you play your part in not causing one. The following are the key causes of road accidents.

1.  Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has always been a leading cause of road accidents but it has only become worse thanks to the proliferation of new distraction triggers such as smartphones. It’s no longer uncommon to drive past someone on the highway who’s driving while scrolling down an app feed on their phone.

The danger with distracted driving is that the more you do it and seem to get away with it, the more entrenched the habit becomes. Eventually, one will feel they have mastered the art of multitasking and can call, text, eat, read and groom at will while behind the wheel.

If you have to do something before you arrive at your destination, pull over to the side of the road in a safe place then proceed when done.

2.  Driving Under the Influence

Drunk driving is one of the surest paths to a road crash. It’s the most common cause of DUI cases but many terrible accidents have been caused by cocaine, heroin, marijuana, prescription pills and other drugs too.

Never drive after taking any drug and that includes any prescribed medication that causes drowsiness. If you find yourself far from home while intoxicated, call a friend, take a taxi or look for someplace to stay, such as a motel, in order to regain your sobriety. Drunk driving may sound like fun but is a real gamble with not just your life but that of other road users.

3.  Speed

Speeding isn’t something solely associated with over-excited teens who’ve just received their driver’s license. Every day, numerous people press the pedal to the metal because they are running late for work or rushing to the scene of an emergency. The result is car accidents causing death or serious injury including whiplash and concussions. Here’s all you need to know about whiplash vs a concussion.

Even when the reason for speed seems legitimate, the fact is the faster your vehicle is moving, the less control you have over it when you run into an unexpected situation on the road. Stay within the legal limits not just because you want to avoid getting a speeding ticket but also because it’s in the best interests of you and other road user’s safety.

4.  Reckless Driving

Speeding is just one example of reckless driving. We’ve all at some point been irritated by someone braking sharply, accelerating abruptly, racing spontaneously, driving between lanes, making illegal U-turns, driving toward oncoming traffic or switching lanes before indicating.

Reckless driving is not just frustrating but it’s the cause of completely avoidable accidents. Always remain calm when driving no matter the internal or external pressures you may be facing.

5.  Rain

You can’t always avoid driving in the rain. Rain can, however, drastically change road conditions by reducing traction, increasing slipping, reducing visibility and hiding large potholes. If pulling over and waiting for the rain to subside and drier conditions to prevail isn’t an option, you should drive while exercising great caution.

Maintain low speeds and don’t hesitate to give way to anyone behind you who may think you are wasting time. Avoid driving through pools of water unless it’s on a road you are deeply familiar with.

Just because you are careful when driving doesn’t mean everyone else will be. Nevertheless, avoiding these road accident triggers will greatly increase your chances of arriving at your destination in one piece.