Common Causes of Car Accidents

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported approximately 5.8 million car accidents in 2008 alone. Of these, an estimated 34,000 were fatal. Traffic accidents aren’t anything new to motorists, they’re fairly common with about 11 happening every minute. For as long as people have been driving there have been accidents. Understanding the reasons and causes of these accidents is the key to preventing them in the future.

Driver Distractions

Distractions and other driver related behavior are the single most contributor to all traffic accidents. A report done on United States and British drivers found that driver behavior or error contributed wholly or partly to over 90% of car accidents. Common driver behaviors that cause car accidents are:

  • Adjusting the radio
  • Talking / Texting on a cell phone
  • Rubbernecking
  • Dealing with passengers
  • Putting on make-up

Numerous studies have found that talking on a phone while driving is more likely to cause a car accident, resulting in many states passing new laws banning or limiting their use in automobiles.

Driver Tiredness or Fatigue

Driver’s often don’t know the extent of their impairment before it’s too late. Fatigued driver’s make up a large portion of car accidents in the United States. Motorists that feel tired or drowsy should exit the road as safely and as soon as possible to avoid a potential accident.

Reckless Driving

Not just limited to breaking the speed limit, reckless driving encompasses many aspects of driving. Aggressively changing lanes, cutting off other drivers, passing on bridges, and traveling at an excessive speed for given road conditions are all large contributors to traffic accidents.


Drunk driving falls under the behavior category but is noteworthy in itself. Driver’s under the influence cause a fatal car accident approximately once every half hour. The simplest way to avoid this is to just not drink and drive. If people are planning on going out to drink they need to make sure they designate a driver for the trip home. Prevention and care here will save lives.

Road Condition or Environment

Whether it’s night time, early morning fog, or snow, the road conditions can play a huge role in car accidents. Icy or wet roads increase the stopping distance between cars, many drivers don’t take this into account when following other automobiles. Including reaction time, a car traveling at 45mph on a dry road takes about 125 feet to reach a complete stop. That same car on an icy road, going the same speed, takes about 480 feet to stop. That’s almost a 4 fold increase in stopping distance. After seeing these figures, it’s easy to see why the condition of the road can play such a large factor.