Common Causes of Car Accidents

Getting in a car accident is never a good experience. These events can be as minor as a fender-bender to as severe as a multi-vehicle collision involving fatalities.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s data from 2019 (the most recent data available), 36,120 people died in motor vehicle crashes nationwide that year. Granted these fatalities are among an estimated average of 6 million car accidents each year in the U.S., but as many as 3 million people are injured in car accidents every year.

Top 5 Reasons for Car Accidents in the U.S.

In a perfect world, car accidents of any severity would never happen – so why do they? Let’s take a look at a few common reasons below.

1. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving might be the most common reason for car accidents because it doesn’t encompass just one behavior. Anything you do that takes your eyes or attention off the road is considered distracted driving.

Examples of these behaviors include the following:

  • Using a cell phone
  • Texting
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Focusing too much on what’s going on in your mirrors
  • Looking at scenery
  • Rubbernecking
  • Engaging with passengers

2. Speeding

Speed is a considerable factor in any car accident. It’s often the only difference between a fender-bender and a fatal collision. Increasing speed reduces the control drivers have over their vehicles. For example, a higher speed makes it harder to stop or slow down quickly enough to avoid other vehicles or road hazards. Making sharp turns or maneuvers at high speed can throw the vehicle off-balance, resulting in a roll-ver.

Drivers should never drive faster than the legal speed limit. They should also consider prevailing conditions like weather or traffic volume when deciding how fast to travel.

3. Aggressive Driving & Road Rage

Aggressive drivers are those that drive at unsafe speeds, make erratic lane changes, engage in tailgating, and fail to abide by other traffic laws. Aggressive drivers are a common cause of accidents not just because of their behavior, but because they make it hard for other drivers to predict their behavior.

Not always, but sometimes aggressive drivers also engage in road rage. Road rage is excessively aggressive behavior on the road where one or multiple drivers put themselves and uninvolved motorists at risk of an accident and serious injury. Road rage can involve attempts to run a vehicle off the road, attempts to get a vehicle to read end another “brake-checking,” and even the use of weapons. Road rage isn’t as common as aggressive driving, but it can be much more dangerous when it occurs.

4. Driving While Intoxicated

Drunken driving, driving while high, and other forms of driving while intoxicated (DWI) are extremely common reasons for car accidents. This is because drivers who are intoxicated are not in full control of their mental faculties – their reaction times are slower, their vision might be impaired, and their ability to coordinate the operation of a car or truck may be impaired as well.

5. Inclement Weather

Finally, inclement weather is also a common cause of car accidents. Drivers are at a greater risk of car accidents when they’re driving in unusual weather. Such weather can include rain, sleet, snow, hail, fog, and other such conditions or weather conditions that make it difficult for them to control their vehicles.