Most Common Causes of Car Accidents

The Auto Insurance Center, a site that focuses on news and information about car insurance, gathered data on each deadly accident in the United States that was documented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA). The data include fatalities among motorists, passengers and pedestrians.

The Auto Insurance Center discovered that all states had especially high rates of fatal accidents related to a certain unsafe driving behavior or road condition.

Failure to remain in the lane

In most states, the leading cause of traffic fatalities is failure to remain in the lane, as well as improper or erratic changing of lanes. The next most common cause of such deadly accidents is failure to yield the right of way.

Road rage

Some motorists are inclined to become angry on the road, thereby leading them to make impulsive and often dangerous decisions while driving. They may behave in a manner that is very aggressive, unsafe and threatening.

Intoxicated driving

The Center determined that fatalities caused by intoxicated driving were more common in rural areas where there was a lack of public transportation. For example, an inebriated motorist in Montana or North Dakota may be unable to telephone a taxi or ride the subway, as one might in New York or Washington, D.C. However, there is an exception in Utah, where there are stringent liquor laws and a large population of Mormons, whose practice prohibits drinking.


Speeding occurs the most frequently in rural areas because they contain roads that extend for miles with little traffic to reduce the speed at which motorists drive. In expansive rural areas, there is often a dearth of law enforcement officers who can sufficiently enforce safe driving regulations. In contrast, urban roads are frequently congested with traffic, making it more difficult to speed as often as one might in rural areas.
Speeding is prevalent among teen motorists. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that teen motorists are more inclined to speed than adult drivers, and male teens are more prone to speeding than female teens.

Inclement weather

Inclement weather conditions are another major cause of fatal traffic accidents. In the majority of states, rain-slicked roads claim the lives of many motorists. In the Midwest, driving in snow tends to have more deadly consequences. But in the southern states and along the coasts, driving in the fog proves to be more hazardous than driving in the snow. In the Northeast and Midwest, sleet is the most dangerous. Crosswinds, or winds blowing perpendicular to the direction in which the motorist is driving, cause dangerous road conditions in the Southwest.

Distracted driving

According to the NHTSA, driver error is the leading cause of non-fatal traffic accidents in the United States. Within the classification of driver error, there are various kinds of driving behaviors that cause car accidents. Distracted driving is most frequently the cause of driving while distracted. The use of cell phones is the most frequently cited cause of distracted driving. The National Safety Council (NSC) stated that 25 percent of all automobile collisions involve the use of cellphones, including talking and texting.

Alcohol and Fatigue

The NHSTA determined that alcohol was a factor in over 40 percent of all deadly automobile crashes. As a result of consuming alcohol, a motorist has diminished reaction time, poor vision and is unable to make well thought-out decisions. Similarly, fatigue produces poor reaction time, and is likely to cause the driver to miss a traffic signal.

Other causes

Among the causes of traffic accidents that are unrelated to driver error are the physical condition of the roads, bad weather conditions, and mechanical problems associated with the vehicle.

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