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What Are the Top 5 Causes of Car Accidents?

Car accidents are incredibly common, with an average of between 15,000 and 20,000 occurring each day in the United States. The top five causes for car accidents are distracted driving, speeding, adverse weather conditions, drunk driving, and running red lights and stop signs.

Making up four of the top five causes, negligence is often the culprit in car accidents. Negligent driving is any driving done with a willful disregard of road safety laws. If you are the victim of an accident caused by a negligent driver, you should contact a car accident attorney to get the compensation to which you are entitled.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is the number one cause of car accidents in the United States every year. Types of distracted driving include:

Distracted driving accounts for over a third of all accidents in the United States each year. While it is the number one cause of accidents and causes plenty of injuries and fatalities, many distracted driving accidents are minor. Considering that between 33% and 40% of all accidents are caused by distracted driving, the fact that only 9% of car accident fatalities are caused by distracted driving suggests many of these accidents are happening at low speeds.


Excessive speed is a factor in about 20-25% of all car accidents and the leading cause in 25-30% of all vehicle-related fatalities. If you are ever on the roadways, you see cars speeding all the time. People speed for a variety of reasons:

Speeding is very dangerous on its own, but many drivers who speed are also exhibiting other negligent behavior. If they are late, they are often driving distracted. They may be texting the person they are meeting, putting on makeup, shaving, eating, or a plethora of activities that keep their eyes and minds off the road. Speeding alone is bad enough, but combined with any of the other top causes of accidents, it becomes much more deadly.

Adverse Weather Conditions

Bad weather can make road conditions treacherous, and this leads to about 20% of all car accidents. Unfortunately, it is one of the most unavoidable causes of car accidents. The other top four reasons for car accidents can be avoided simply by being responsible behind the wheel or responsible enough not to get behind the wheel in the first place. But most people don’t always have the option to avoid driving in poor weather.

While workplaces will often accept the excuse of not being able to make it into work due to snow, they will be very unlikely to accept the excuse of not being able to make it in due to rain. If you live in heavy snow areas like Wisconsin, then snow will rarely work as an excuse for not making it in, either.

In cases of bad weather, if you can avoid driving, you should do so. However, if it is unavoidable, the best you can do is take precautions to improve your safety. When driving in heavy rain, make sure to use your wipers at the appropriate setting to keep your windshield clear, reduce your speed, and make sure to focus all of your attention on the road. Poor weather is a time when distracted driving can really hurt you.

Drunk Driving

Driving drunk is one of the most dangerous things a person can do behind the wheel. While drunk driving is the primary cause in only 10-15% of all accidents, it is the leading cause of car-related fatalities with a rate of over 30%. The fact that the rate of drunk driving accidents is lower than distracted driving accidents is simply because there are far fewer drunk drivers than there are distracted drivers on the road.

Many people never mix alcohol with driving, while most drivers have a moment or two of distracted driving every time that they get behind the wheel.

Running Red Lights and Stop Signs

Comparatively, running red lights and stop signs is a minor problem as far as vehicle accidents are concerned. However, accidents from driving through traffic signals are on the rise. While the number of crashes is low next to the other causes listed above, the injury and fatality rates are disturbingly high. Almost 50% of all crashes caused by running a red light result in injury compared to 33% for other types of accidents.

The main reason that accidents from running red lights tend to be so dangerous is the high speeds involved. In order to try and make it through the intersection before cars start crossing the intersection perpendicularly, drivers tend to gun the gas, accelerating into the crossing, and if they are late, into another vehicle.

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