What are the Leading Causes of Car Accidents?

Posted on
Causes of Car Accidents

Car accidents kill thousands of people every year in the United States. Millions sustain personal injury in car accidents throughout the country annually. Most people would agree that if they had the power to prevent car accidents from taking lives and injuring people, they most certainly would take action against such tragedy. What is incredible is that in many cases, this power does exist. When considering the factors and conditions that lead to car accidents, it becomes clear that knowledge about leading accident causes can transfer into responsible individual choices, giving people the power to take action to prevent the devastation that can accompany an avoidable car accident.

The causes of car accidents can generally be logged under one or more of four categories: driving behavior, driver impairment, hazardous driving conditions, and unsafe equipment. Although many of the causes of driving accidents can unfortunately be unforeseeable for the driver, quite often the driver’s behavior and choices are at the root of the problem that can lead to serious danger for themselves, their passengers, and others.

A great majority of accidents are caused by human error, approximately 94 percent by some estimates. Although it is true that simple mistakes and oversights can have grave consequences, many of these slip-ups can be prevented with careful attention and forethought when it comes to basic driving safety.

Other causes are out of the control of drivers, as when a faulty car part fails or when an act of nature causes danger. Still, it can be useful for drivers to review these causes and rule out those that they can keep in check.

Driving Behavior

The best way to prevent an accident is for a driver to ensure that they are following driving laws and making safety their first priority. They can do that in many ways that start with their attitude about safety and also include a mindfulness of communicating and anticipating interactions with other road users. These examples of car accident causes lay out many of the driving behaviors that should be avoided in order to keep the roads safe.

Distracted driving. The first rule of safe driving is to make driving the primary focus. Distractions that take a driver’s eyes and mind off the road can create profound danger.

Speeding. A driver who disregards the speed limit puts themselves and others in danger. Speed limits are implemented to guide drivers about what speeds are safe in the context of the particular conditions present on the road at hand, such as curves or intersections. Ignoring this thought-through safe-speed designation can have dire consequences.

Reckless driving. Drivers who carelessly joyride or ignore basic safety precautions create unnecessary dangers.

Running red lights. Impatience or arrogance can make a driver blow through a red light or a stop sign and put people at risk of an accident. In some red light-running cases, the driver may miscalculate how quickly the light would change. In either case, the act of running a red light is both dangerous and against the law.

Tailgating. Drivers who drive too closely to the car in front of them may not have enough time to react if the other car stops abruptly. Leaving enough room can prevent an accident.

Unsafe lane changes. Drivers must use turn signals and appropriate caution when changing lanes or making other maneuvers that other drivers may not anticipate. Otherwise, a lack of clear communication may cause an accident.

Wrong-way driving. Paying attention to road signs and markings is obviously an important component to safe driving. Unfortunately, many accidents happen as a result of drivers heading in the wrong direction, into oncoming traffic. This often happens when visibility is low or when driver impairment is an issue.

Driver Impairment

Before getting behind the wheel, drivers should take care to ensure that they are in the type of condition to be able to offer the focus and attention needed to safely operate a motor vehicle. There are many types of distraction that can cause danger on the roads, but in many cases the issue may be handled with a driver ensuring that they are, in fact, capable of exhibiting the kind of concentration and alertness that it takes to drive safely.

Drunk driving. Police check points and billboard campaigns try to spread the word about the dangers of drunk driving. Perplexingly, the fear of getting a ticket is more motivational for some motorists than the reality that driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious threat to everyone’s road safety.

Drugged driving. Recreational drugs can inhibit safe driving in many of the same ways that drinking can, but so can some prescription medications that are not always associated with driving danger.

Drowsy driving. Not getting enough sleep or driving for extended periods in monotonous conditions can affect a driver’s ability to stay awake and focused on driving safety. Drivers must take time to realistically assess how their level of tiredness might affect their ability to drive, as driver fatigue is a serious threat to the safety of those on the road.

Road rage. Another condition that can be vital to assess and regulate before starting the ignition has to do with avoiding driving while emotionally distressed. Being upset can cause driver distraction, but it can also cause other issues. A driver who takes to the road to calm down should think twice. No driver should be operating a motor vehicle unless they can be calm and responsive to the safety needs of those in the vicinity. This also applies when an upsetting incident arises between two drivers. It is best to avoid that kind of interaction at all costs.

Hazardous Driving Conditions

Adverse weather and road conditions have been known to be a factor in a great number of car accidents. Some of the conditions that drivers may wish to avoid include the following:

  • Heavy rains
  • Snow and ice
  • Fog
  • Darkness at night
  • Potholes
  • Deadly curves
  • Animal crossings

Unsafe Equipment

A failure of equipment can be to blame when a car accident occurs. Sometimes this is because of user error. Other times, the blame may fall with a car maker, a parts manufacturer, or a technician who installed a replacement part improperly.

Proper vehicle maintenance. A car owner may have neglected to care for their vehicle, or a service team may be responsible for a poor maintenance job. Either one may cause an accident.

Poor quality parts. A tire blowout that results in a car accident may have been caused by a dangerous flaw in the tire’s manufacturing that should have instigated a recall.

Which Drivers Statistically Have More Accidents?

There are some demographical factors that seem to affect the likelihood of having an accident. By and large, newer motorists who have less driving experience have more accidents. Drivers under age 20 have a higher accident risk. Male drivers, in particular, have a higher rate of car accidents as compared with female motorists.

Does Driving at Certain Times Affect the Likelihood of Car Accidents?

Driving at night significantly increases the likelihood of a car accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out that more traffic accidents happen on weekend nights and during the weekday rush hour than at other times. The administration also states that holiday weekends are of particular concern, as there tends to be an increase of cars on the roads because people are more likely to travel.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect the Rights of Severely Injured Accident Victims

If you suffered severe injuries or lost a loved one in a car accident in Maryland, you are legally eligible to collect damages to pay for the losses caused by your accident. Whether the cause was distracted driving, drunk driving, or some other issue, the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help you prove that your losses were the result of someone else’s negligence, and that the person responsible for the incident should be held accountable. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.


Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.