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Does Car Clutter Contribute to Accidents?

Published on Jun 3, 2022 by Thomas Law Offices.

No one plans on becoming involved in an auto accident. Unfortunately, they are a common occurrence here in Chicago. One culprit that’s surprisingly often to blame for car accidents is car clutter. It can be very distracting.

There are two different ways one can interpret the term “clutter.” It may be used to describe disorganization within a motorist’s automobile. It can also be used to refer to a lost load scenario in which debris that a motorist is hauling gets loose, colliding into others.

These distractions can startle a motorist, causing them to lose focus, resulting in an avoidable crash. Let’s explore how might car clutter contribute to accidents.

How a Vehicle’s Interior Clutter Increases Crash Risks

There are a few different that can cause an accident. These include:

Loose Belongings

Items left on your car’s floor, inside door pockets, in your center console, or on the seat can easily get kicked or slip out of place. If this were to occur, it could temporarily take your eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel, and even your foot off the pedal as you try to recover whatever fell, thus resulting in a crash. This may affirm for some that car clutter contributes to accidents.

It’s not uncommon for movement in your car to throw you off. A momentary distraction could lead to a poor reaction—hitting your brakes hard, swerving into another lane, or slamming on your breaks—and thus an accident.

Protect yourself from distractions by securing items in their proper places: glove compartment, trunk, or passenger seat (if appropriate). If you can’t bear to part with something that won’t fit, keep it in your home to use after your trip. You’ll stay safer while traveling if everything is safely where it belongs.

Uncomfortable Driving Conditions

Car crashes happen quickly, and it’s usually a combination of factors that cause accidents. Research has shown that driving when you feel physically uncomfortable can lead to distracted driving, which can, in turn, lead to wrecks.

Uncomfortable driving conditions include things like not having enough room for your legs or having sweaty hands on your steering wheel.

Move anything out of the way that makes you feel cramped or has the potential of falling on you while you’re driving. The goal should be to move anything an arm’s length away that infringes on your personal space.

Also, make sure your car is comfortable temperature-wise before hitting the road; being too hot or cold could cause distractions that could affect your ability to maintain optimal control over your vehicle.

Hauling an unrestrained pet, trying to wrangle a to-go cup if you don’t have a cup holder to put it in, and tight clothing and shoes could all encroach into your space and distract you, which could, in turn, cause a collision.

Ways Motorists Can Reduce Potential Passenger Compartment Distractions

It can be beneficial for drivers to perform safety checks before attempting to take off in their cars. A safety check may entail running through a mental checklist of everything that may be needed during a trip out. Checking for pens, coffee cups, water bottles, or chewing gum are some items any motorist may want to ensure that they have with them.

Motorists can also benefit from making sure their mirror settings are in the desired positions and that they know where gear shifts, turn signals, and light switches are before taking off. While these are stationary items that aren’t going to become clutter, they are distractions. Motorists tend to become panicked, tossing around objects when they discover they need them behind the wheel of their car.

It’s best to minimize any potential debris or clutter as well as distractions as much as possible. You may find that maintaining a zipped backpack that keeps all your belongings nicely corralled in a single place is ideal for ensuring a clutter and distraction-free drive.

External Clutter Motorists Must Worry About

Another type of clutter or debris motorists must worry about is an improperly secured load. Many motorists have these after visiting a hardware or furniture store to pick up an oversized item. Individuals may also attempt to overstuff their trunks or move their belongings atop their vehicle, only for it to come flying off because they didn’t adequately tether it down.

The summer warmth is when many motorists head out on an outdoor adventure, try their hand at do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, haul building materials around, or relocate to a new area. This is often why you’ll see home goods that have fallen off vehicles strewn about the interstate during the warmer months of the year. Drivers who traveled near these vehicles at the time they lost these goods may have had to swerve or suddenly change lanes to avoid being hit by falling objects.

You’ll also often see remnants of tires. Some of the destruction you see is caused by variations in temperature and poor tire maintenance. Tires that are improperly secured to their axels may even fall off. If the motorist this happens to was traveling fast enough, then their tire could easily become a projectile, causing a driver to lose control of their vehicle and inflicting damage to the car and its occupants.

Ways Drivers Can Avoid Accidents Caused by Road Debris

The easiest way motorists can reduce their chances of having car clutter contribute to accidents is to regularly scan the roadway for any potential hazards such as falling debris catching them off guard or striking them. Motorists should also anticipate what may happen; for example, if a vehicle appears to have a low-pressure tire on it that is vibrating, then it should send a message to other drivers to keep their distance as it may soon fail.

Getting Help in Your Car Accident Case

Many of us don’t think twice about what we carry into our vehicle, how tightly we pack our car, or how secure a load is when we need to haul things around. We should, though. Giving these actions a second thought can ensure that we don’t cause a crash.

You have rights if someone else’s negligence left you hurt. Our auto accident lawyers in Chicago would like to sit down with you to discuss what those are. Schedule your complimentary consultation today.

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Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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