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Car Accident Causes

Car accident causes are primarily based on driver behavior.

We know this because, despite improvements in vehicle safety technology, the number of people killed or injured in car accidents continue to rise. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), more than 37,000 people die in traffic accidents every year in the United States. 1,600 of those are children younger than 15, and 8,000 of them are younger than 20. An additional 2.35 million receive serious injuries, many resulting in lifelong disabilities.

Top Car Accident Causes

So, what are the leading car accident causes? This is what the Insurance Information Institute tells us:

#1 – Speeding

Speeding kills more people in the U.S. than any of the other car accident causes.

Driving over the speed limit reduces the amount of time you have to react to a hazard in the road, and increases the length of road surface you need to stop to avoid hitting the car in front of you. Not only does speeding increase the chances of getting into an automobile accident, but it also increases the severity of the accident.

Speeding is not simply exceeding the speed limit, which, as a reminder is the fastest speed you should be driving, but could also mean driving too fast for road conditions, whatever the speed limit is. For instance, in the rain, you should drive more slowly.

Street racing is another cause of speed-related injuries and deaths on the road.

# 2 – Driving Under the Influence

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), someone is killed by a drunk driver, on average, every 48 minutes. During the week, drunk drivers are responsible for about 15 percent of automobile-related deaths; this figure increases to 28 percent on the weekend.

Most people  involved in drunk-driving accidents are repeat offenders who have previously been convicted of an alcohol-related crime or have driven while under the influence before.

With the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in many states, driving under the influence of marijuana is also becoming more common.

# 3 – Driver Carelessness

Careless driving is a combination of car accident causes that include making unsafe lane changes, failing to yield, failing to obey traffic signs, etc. Carelessness can be caused by several factors: age (either youth and inexperience, or aging and overestimating driving abilities), being in a hurry, poor driving ability or training, fear of traffic, distraction, drugs, or drowsiness.

# 4 – Distracted Driving

Common car accident causes are people who are not paying attention to the road in front of them and the traffic around them. Distracted drivers may be:

  • Texting
  • Rubbernecking (slowing down to gawk at another accident), looking at scenery
  • Talking with other passengers or on a hands-free cell phone (which statistically does not reduce the risk of accidents as opposed to using a hand-held cell phone)
  • Tending to a child in the back seat
  • Adjusting the radio or CD player
  • Playing with the dog in their lap
  • Checking directions on a GPS map
  • Reading a book, newspaper, or other document

#5 – Reckless Driving

This is defined as operating an automobile in a selfish or aggressive manner, without regard for the rights or safety of the other users of the street or highway. Reckless driving includes such behavior as tailgating; disregarding traffic signs and signals; changing lanes frequently and/or unsafely, and failing to yield the right of way.

This type of behavior is often a precursor to road rage, another cause of accidents, injuries and fatalities on the road.

#6 – Drowsy Driving

Driver fatigue also ranks in the top car accident causes. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of drivers in the United States say they consistently drive while tired, and 37 percent say they have actually fallen asleep behind the wheel!

The result is deadly. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 328,000 accidents every year are attributable to drowsy driving. A third of these accidents result in an injury, and around 6,400 are fatal. Accidents attributed to driver fatigue happen most often between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m.

Drivers are three times more likely to have an accident when fatigued. This is because being sleepy reduces drivers’ reaction times, attention span and awareness of hazards. In fact, driving after being awake longer than 20 hours is the equivalent of driving legally drunk.

#7 – Dangerous Driving in Bad Weather

Rain, heavy fog, snow, ice, and other weather conditions contribute to many automobile accidents. When the weather makes driving even a little more hazardous, drivers must slow down and leave extra room between the car in front of them. (Many Southern California drivers seem to be unaware of this fact.) In severe conditions, the best thing is to stop at the side of the road and wait until the weather conditions improve.

#8 – Dangerous Road Conditions

Sometimes, the condition of the road or surroundings make it difficult to avoid hazards. For example, if foliage obscures a road sign, or the road is poorly lit, this creates a dangerous driving environment that could cause accidents.


If you have been injured in an accident caused by any of the above car accident causes, you may be entitled to financial compensation for personal injury, property damage or wrongful death.

Contact the car accident lawyers at TorkLaw right away. Complete the form on this page, or call for a free consultation at 888.845.9696.