Most Common Causes of Car Accidents

April 20, 2024

Car accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. While some accidents may be unavoidable due to uncontrollable circumstances like bad weather, the majority are caused by human error and poor driving habits. Understanding the most common causes of accidents can help drivers be more aware and take steps to prevent crashes.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents today, with 3,000 deaths each year. Drivers take their eyes off the road when they talk or text on cellphones, fiddle with music, eat, interact with passengers, or become distracted by things they see outside the vehicle. Even just a few seconds of inattention can lead to a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving caused 3,308 deaths in 2022. Being fully focused on driving is key to accident prevention.

Impaired Driving

Drunk, drugged, and drowsy driving are all forms of impaired driving – 37 people die every day in drunk driving crashes. Any substance that changes mood, perception, or brain function can reduce coordination and motor skills needed for safe driving. Drunk driving is responsible for roughly one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. each year. Drinking alcohol before driving slows reaction times, reduces peripheral vision, and impairs judgment and concentration among other effects. Prescription and over-the-counter medications can also interfere with driving ability. Refraining from driving after consuming any substance is the best way to avoid impaired driving crashes. Hiring a car accident lawyer is essential if you’re in a car accident with a drunk driver.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving leads to thousands of car crashes per year, with 684 deaths in 2021 alone. Fatigue slows reaction times, decreases awareness, and impairs judgment just like alcohol does. Driving while exhausted can be incredibly dangerous. Signs of drowsy driving include frequent yawning, difficulty keeping eyes open and focused, memory lapses, and wandering between lanes. Missing just two or three hours of sleep in a 24-hour period can nearly double your risk of getting into a crash. Getting adequate rest, taking breaks on long drives, and avoiding driving late at night can help curb drowsy driving accidents.


328,946 people were injured in crashes caused by speeding drivers in 2021, and speeding is a major factor in many car accidents. Excessive speed makes it harder for a driver to steer safely. It also extends the distance needed to stop a vehicle. Statistics show that the risk of death in a crash doubles for every 10 mph over 50 mph that a car is traveling. Speed limits are put in place to protect all road users. Obeying them and driving at speeds appropriate for the conditions can help reduce accidents.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving behaviors like tailgating, unsafe lane changes, failure to yield right of way, and running red lights greatly raise the risk of accidents. Aggressive drivers are focused on saving time or expressing frustration more than they are on safety. Their impulsive actions make it hard for other drivers to react defensively. Road rage also provokes aggressive behaviors. Driving patiently, anticipating other drivers’ moves, and giving others the benefit of the doubt can help avoid confrontations that lead to crashes.

By being aware of the top causes of accidents, drivers can make smart choices behind the wheel. Following traffic laws, minimizing distractions, getting enough rest, and driving sober and patiently are all important steps for preventing crashes and staying safe on the road.