The average number of car accident injuries that happen per year in the United States is around three million. In addition, about 36,000 people die from auto accident injuries every year, including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. When a party doesn’t follow the rules of the road, disaster can happen, leading to insurmountable consequences for those involved.
Why do car accidents happen across the country? Are there any similarities between common car accidents? Are they any outliers? Below are 25 main reasons why car accidents happen.
1. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of fatal car accidents in the United States. When drivers lose their focus for less than a few seconds, their car can travel the length of a football field at just an average speed of 25 miles per hour.
With that said, here are a few reasons why distracted driving occurs:
- The driver sends a text while driving.
- The driver answers a call or speaks on the phone when driving.
- The driver looks down at their phone while driving.
- The driver eats while driving.
- The driver looks excessively behind them or to the side of them while driving.
- The driver speaks to another person in both the passenger seat and backseats while driving.
- The driver consumes hot coffee or messy food while driving.
As you can see, there are a lot of different reasons why a driver can become distracted. Being too distracted while driving can cause a direct, head-on collision or a rear collision, both of which can be deadly at moderate speeds.
For more than 20 years, speeding has caused approximately one-third of all auto fatalities. Speeding causes 26 percent of the year’s car accidents. Unfortunately, most drivers will resort to speeding to avoid heavy traffic, arrive at their destination more quickly, or simply because they are impatient.
Frequent speeding can grow into a bad habit and lead to irreparable damage and injuries to others. Going too fast can eliminate the time the driver has to make quick decisions. Also, speeding increases the chances of a driver running into another car at an intersection.
Moreover, speeding increases the risk of a rear-end collision. By speeding, drivers reduce the time they might have to stop should traffic halt suddenly or if they come upon another type of obstacle.
Speeding is completely preventable, and drivers who speed and cause crashes should be liable for all harm they cause.
3. Drunk Driving
Drunk driving tragically claims the lives of thousands of people each year in the United States. Crashes that occur due to impaired driving can injure drivers and passengers in all involved vehicles, as well as bystanders and pedestrians.
Depending on how intoxicated the driver is, they may lose significant control of their motor skills and cognitive ability to drive safely, leading to them crashing directly into pedestrians. Sadly, the trend for drunk driving continues to increase. Accidents involving drunk driving are usually very serious because the intoxicated driver might not make any attempt to correct themselves and avoid the collision. As a result, significant injuries and even death are the likely outcomes of drunk driving incidents.
Driving while drunk is against the law in all 50 states and can result in criminal charges. However, criminal cases are often insufficient to cover the losses of injured victims, and they need to file civil claims against the drunk driver to seek damages for all of their losses.
4. Reckless Driving
Reckless driving has a broad definition, which varies from state to state. It usually includes driving behavior that shows a disregard for the safety of others.
The following are some examples of common reckless driving habits that might cause crashes:
- A driver splits lanes and comes too close to another vehicle
- A driver speeds past a red light and dodges a car in the same lane without checking their mirrors
- A driver switches lanes without signaling or checking their mirrors
- A driver shifts between two different speeds on the road
- A driver suddenly slams on their breaks in the road to turn
- A driver follows other vehicles too closely
- A driver doesn’t give another vehicle enough distance to stop
- A driver uses the turning lane to pass other drivers
- A driver tries to pass a car in the same lane by going on the side of them
- A driver weaves through traffic at fast speeds
- A driver navigates the expressway at dangerously slow speeds
It’s no secret that rain causes unprecedented driving issues. Despite a car’s windshield wipers preventing rain from obscuring a driver’s vision (in addition to heating systems and high beams helping to maintain it), heavy rain can make it extremely difficult to drive.
A lot of people also drive recklessly in the rain, including speeding on wet streets. No matter how well designed a car’s tires are, they can slide and pivot harshly on a wet surface.
Also, depending on the slope of the street, a pool of water can develop. If a car hits the pool of water at high speed, it can spin out of control and slide into oncoming traffic. Such an instance can lead to a significant car accident in which multiple drivers and pedestrians can suffer injuries or even pass away.
Heavy rain can play a pivotal role in a deadly car accident, especially if the drivers involved aren’t following the rules of the road, which includes slowing down enough to maintain control of their vehicles.
6. Running Red Lights
One of the most basic rules of the road is to stop at red lights. Anyone that disobeys this rule blatantly places other drivers in danger. The main reason why is because many drivers immediately begin to drive right away after a red light turns green.
Missing a red light by only a few seconds could cause a driver to collide with another motorist, resulting in serious injuries. Most of the time, drivers will completely run a red light if they are intoxicated, distracted, or aggressively trying to pass slower drivers.
There isn’t any excuse for drivers running red lights, and doing so can lead to significant injuries and damage. If you have sustained an injury as the result of another driver running a red light, you deserve compensation. Contact a car accident attorney today to discuss your options for filing a claim and pursuing fair compensation for your injuries and medical bills.
7. Running Stop Signs
Another common cause of car accidents in the United States is running stop signs. Drivers who engage in this dangerous practice put others at risk, just like drivers who run red lights. Some drivers might not think running a stop sign is a big deal, especially since they are often on smaller streets with lower speed limits and seemingly lower risk.
However, when you approach a stop sign and expect another driver to stop, and they do not, the resulting collision can be serious. Running stop signs often results in broadside crashes, which can result in serious injuries. The occupants on the side of the car that gets hit are at particular risk for severe injuries.
8. Inexperienced Driving
Inexperienced driving happens quite frequently in the United States. Teenagers and other unlicensed drivers can get behind the wheel and wreak serious damage to other motorists.
Inexperienced driving can cause such devastating car accidents because most people without a driver’s license do not fully know the rules of the road. Because of this, inexperienced drivers may not know when to properly yield or pass, which might lead to collisions. They may not know how to adjust their speed across winding roads properly or how to drive in the rain safely.
Inexperienced drivers may not fully understand how to give other drivers the proper distance to protect themselves from sudden stops. They also might not know how to react in risky situations, such as if the vehicle starts sliding or they otherwise start to lose control.
Even young drivers with licenses can allow their inexperience to lead to a crash. Teenage drivers are often distracted or might not fully acknowledge the risks of dangerous driving behaviors, such as impaired driving or speeding. Inexperience is the cause of many different types of car crashes, and injured victims should receive full compensation for their medical bills and other losses.
9. Night Driving
Driving at night is generally safe, but only under a few conditions. On properly lit roads and when the driver uses their headlights, driving at night should not have many challenges.
But, this isn’t usually the case for most drivers. Drivers traveling on unfamiliar roads with dim or no lighting at all carry enormous risk. Without proper lighting, streets can become death traps for both motorists and pedestrians.
A person traveling by foot on an unlit road can be struck by an oncoming car quite easily. Such a collision can happen when a driver hugs the side of the road and strikes a pedestrian. Due to the presence of no streetlights, the driver would most likely have never seen the pedestrian.
These types of accidents can happen even when the driver has turned on their headlights. As a result, drivers need to stay watchful while traveling on unlit streets. When they fail to do so, serious and preventable collisions can result.
10. Design Defects
Design defects, such as car defects and road defects, often lead to accidents. Car defects, in particular, can cause irreparable damage to the vehicle and driver during a car accident.
Car defects that can result in deadly on-road collisions include:
- A car’s brakes may not engage on time. They may not even work at all with proper maintenance.
- A car’s airbag may not engage in the aftermath of a car accident, causing the driver to hit their head on the steering wheel or suffer other massive brain and body injuries.
- The wheels or car’s suspension may be damaged or improperly assembled, leading to a car accident.
Road defects can also lead to disastrous consequences. A broken stop sign can result in a driver colliding with another motorist. A traffic light can also malfunction and result in an auto accident. Large potholes or other road hazards that do not get repaired can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. These scenarios might be the burden of the city or company in charge of maintaining that stretch of road.
11. Unsafe Lane Changes
The average driver changes lanes several times every day. Sometimes, they may forget to signal a lane change. Other motorists will not and cannot read that driver’s mind. You don’t know when a driver plans to turn, so if the driver stops abruptly on the road or suddenly gets over with little room to spare, they may cause a collision with your car.
Many people will also assume that it’s safe to switch lanes and not bother checking their mirrors when a driver can be in their blind spot. Getting over without the necessary space can lead to a rear-end or sideswipe accident.
No drivers should assume that others know what their next move will be. Instead, they should signal at every turn to alert incoming drivers and stay defensive on the road at all times. When they do not, they can crash and should be liable for losses that result.
12. Wrong-Way Driving
Wrong-way driving is not very common on the road, but it can happen. One of the most frequent causes of wrong-way driving is being distracted. By not focusing on the road, a driver can accidentally move to the wrong side and collide instantly into incoming traffic.
Being distracted on the road can also lead to drivers not seeing road signs that indicate a change in traffic flow. For example, traffic cones and construction signs can impede the flow of normal traffic and catch distracted drivers off guard, resulting in a distracted driver going the wrong way and causing harm to other motorists.
Impairment is another common cause of wrong-way driving and collisions. Drunk or drugged drivers might make a wrong turn and end up driving the wrong way on a one-lane road or highway. This often leads to deadly head-on crashes.
13. Improper Turns
Improper turns often involve a driver turning from the wrong lane or into the wrong lane. Anytime a driver fails to maintain their lane and turns into the wider lane, they risk colliding with another motorist. The law requires everyone to turn in the nearest lane from a proper turn lane, and violating these laws can lead to crashes.
Also, some drivers can make overly wide turns and split lanes. Some drivers can also collide with other drivers while making their turns. Whatever the case may be, improper turns can result in serious auto accidents.
Drivers should follow the driving rules for making proper turns. Any deviation from these laws can lead to deadly road accidents. If a car accident due to an improper turn caused your injuries, you are eligible to receive compensation to cover your medical bills and other related expenses.
Many drivers are excessively impatient and aggressive. They will resort to tailgating another driver to attempt to get to where they are going faster. However, tailgating can be extremely dangerous and regularly leads to crashes.
Following too closely to another car won’t give a driver enough time to adjust if traffic stops abruptly. As such, causing a rear-end collision becomes more likely during tailgating. This can be true at faster or slower speeds.
For this reason, all drivers need to maintain a safe distance from other motorists. If there is no opportunity to pass another driver, it is important to slow down and be patient. Drivers who fail to stay calm often end up aggressively tailgating and causing collisions.
Unfortunately, tailgating is very common. If you’ve experienced a tailgating-related accident, contact an auto accident attorney immediately to discuss your rights and how to seek a possible settlement.
15. Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
Alcohol is not the only substance that causes impairment and dangerous driving behaviors. Many types of drugs also have effects that decrease driving abilities, and this can include legally possessed prescription drugs.
While intoxicated, a driver can lose some of their motor and cognitive skills.
Their impaired state can cause drivers to completely ignore or disregard the most fundamental driving rules in the following ways:
- A driver on sleep medication can lose consciousness and collide with oncoming drivers and pedestrians.
- A driver high on narcotics can hallucinate and smash into pedestrians and drivers.
- A driver under the influence of drugs can run red lights, stop signs, travel at unsafe speeds, and make very wide turns.
A person should never drive under the influence of drugs, no matter how insignificant their dosage is. A doctor or pharmacist will typically give instructions on when and when not to drive, and drivers should always follow these instructions.
Cars aren’t designed to travel on ice as they are in the rain. Unless you purchase specialty tires designed to travel on ice, you’ll be at a disadvantage. At high speeds, cars can easily slide on ice and hit anything in their paths.
When drivers are traveling at high speeds in icy conditions, a massive car accident involving multiple participants can take place. Depending on weather conditions, ice can stick and clump to the road. When this happens, driving becomes more difficult.
When speeding, tires can hit a patch of ice that can have the same impact as a pothole. Once the tires leave the ground and land back on the ice, a car can slide. In some areas, there can be “black ice” on the road that can be difficult for drivers to see until it is too late. If there is a chance of wet or freezing conditions, drivers should always play it safe and slow down. When they do not, they might be liable for crashes and injuries.
Unlike ice, snow can pile in height. Most cars do not travel well in large amounts of snow. Even large trucks will have difficulty moving in such conditions because of precipitation collected on the roadway.
A layer of snow over ice can deceive drivers into thinking that their car will be fine if they push on through the snow. However, ice under snow can be a dangerous problem, and cars can slide.
In addition, cars can get stuck in the snow and suddenly stop in the middle of the road. If other drivers are traveling behind a stuck vehicle, a rear-end collision can occur. For this reason, drivers should avoid traveling in high amounts of snow and pay close attention to severe weather advisories.
18. Road Rage
Some aggressive drivers take their anger to the next level, which can result in road rage. Road rage can involve a wide range of driving behaviors, all of which put others on the road at immediate risk of harm.
Road rage might include:
- A driver intentionally cuts another driver off with a dangerous lane change
- A faster driver tailgates a slower driver and becomes frustrated, possibly even purposely hitting their car
- A driver yells threats or displays a weapon, causing other drivers to become frightened and distracted
- A driver otherwise follows and harasses a slower driver
Some road rage incidents turn violent, where one driver attempts to physically harm the other driver in a fight. Sometimes, guns can get involved. More commonly, an angry driver will run another driver off the road.
Potholes are common across the country, and they often get worse as the weather changes. When potholes are not fixed properly, they can cause car accidents in many situations.
When a driver suddenly hits a pothole, a tire can blow out, causing the driver to swerve in the opposite direction, affecting other drivers. In addition to this, a driver may try to dodge a pothole and collide with another driver as a result.
Potholes can inflict serious damage on any car. Drivers usually do their best to avoid them to protect their tires, unknowingly coming too close to other motorists. Some will even switch lanes without looking in their mirrors. All of these actions can cause an auto accident.
Depending on the size and location of the pothole, crashes can occur. Transportation agencies and contractors should address dangerous potholes to prevent accidents and, when they do not, these companies might be responsible for accidents and injuries. Drivers who make errors when trying to avoid potholes might also be liable.
20. Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving happens more often than you realize. Americans normally have early mornings and must commute to work during the wee hours of the day. Even with a drink of coffee, they may be too tired to stay focused and aware of their surroundings. Those driving back home from a hard and long day of work can run into the same problem.
Drowsy driving eliminates basic motor skills a person needs to navigate the road safely. Drowsy driving can also result in the motorist hallucinating and seeing double. In fact, many researchers liken the effects of fatigue on a driver to drunk driving.
Contrary to popular belief, drinking coffee and energy drinks can only exacerbate drowsy driving. Eventually, the effects of these stimulants will wear off and cause the body to completely shut down and fall asleep. Drowsy driving is common among truck drivers, rideshare drivers, and similar people at work on the roads.
21. Tire Blowouts
Tire blowouts can happen for a wide variety of different reasons. One reason is due to road hazards. It is not uncommon for municipal roads to be in poor condition and make driving hazardous. Traveling on damaged roadways does not leave drivers much room to avoid cracks and dips that can damage their tires.
Careless drivers can attempt to maneuver through tough roads without checking their mirrors. As such, these drivers can collide with other motorists. There also might be the presence of potholes, which can cause instant irreparable damage to a tire. Depending on the size of a pothole, a tire can get punctured and lose air rapidly. When this happens, a driver can lose control of their vehicle. In high traffic areas where driving becomes compact, tire blowouts can be dangerous.
If you sustained injuries in a car accident due to poor road conditions, you may be wondering if you can hold the city accountable. It’s best to contact a car accident attorney to learn more about who is truly at fault for your accident.
Fog is an interesting phenomenon. When cool air mixes with warm water, humidity can reach 100 percent, causing fog to form. Fog is extremely dangerous for drivers, as high beams cannot penetrate completely through the surrounding mist.
Fog is uncommon in vibrant city areas where lakes and rivers do not exist. Even if fog forms in these areas, it often won’t be as dense as in rural areas. Rural fog, which can form over bridges, can make it completely impossible to see. Foggy conditions make colliding into another driver increasingly likely, and severe injuries and death could result. This is especially the case when drivers fail to slow down or pull off the road when they cannot see.
23. Dangerous Curves
Dangerous curves, also known as winding roads and “Dead Man’s Curves,” are tight curves in the road that can cause an auto accident. Rural areas often have numerous deadly curves where drivers must make tight and focused turns.
The problem is that these turns can be sudden. If the driver is distracted, they can forget to lower their speed. As a result, the driver can run off the curve and cause debilitating injuries to passengers or themselves.
A driver can also leave their lane on the left side and collide into opposing traffic on a curve. Usually, curves like these have signs indicating when they are approaching. A distracted driver can easily ignore them, as can a driver that is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
24. Animal Crossings
Animal crossings are a more uncommon cause for a car accident, but it can happen depending on a variety of several factors, which include:
- What kind of animal was it? Were ducks crossing the road, or was it a large deer or moose?
- Were there any signs or warnings that an animal crossing area was present?
- Were drivers speeding past the animal crossing?
- Did a driver try to avoid the animals and collide with another motorist?
- Did a driver try to avoid the animals and hit a pedestrian?
Animal crossings are rare in populous cities. In rural cities, animals will take their time crossing the road regularly. Whatever the case may be, hitting an animal or trying to avoid hitting an animal can result in serious crashes.
25. Street Racing
Many drivers have experienced street racing in one form or another. Street racing can happen completely out of nowhere or, in some instances, the participating drivers even plan a street race. Two drivers decide to compete against each other, weaving through traffic, passing other drivers, and bolting through red lights or intersections, sometimes more than 90 miles per hour. A fatal car accident could take place if a racing driver collides with another motorist in their way.
Find the Best Car Accident Attorney Near You
As you can see, there are numerous reasons why car accidents happen in the United States. Some of the causes are more common than others, but they all have the potential to cause serious injuries to others.
If you believe that another driver or party caused your crash, you should not have to pay for all of your medical expenses on your own. In many cases, you may receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
Do not hesitate to seek out help from the best car accident lawyer in your area. Taking the time to do so can often greatly improve the outcome of your case. Contact Brauns Law, PC today for a free consultation.