23 Mar

What Are The 4 Most Common Causes of Car Accidents?

Car Accidents, Personal Injury

driver error

In the United States, about 3 million people are injured in car accidents every year, and more than 32,500 are killed. Unintentional injuries resulting from car accidents are included as the 5th leading cause of death in the United States, according to data from the CDC.

Unfortunately, negligent driving is to blame for the majority of these crashes. Car accidents are often preventable, which is why every driver needs to do their part by learning what errors they are prone to make and then taking great care to avoid making those errors and practice safe driving on the roads – knowledge is power.

Learning the top causes of car accidents is the easy part. Between 2005 to 2007, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, which collected on-site information about the factors involved in passenger vehicle crashes. A weighted sample of 5,740 crashes was investigated during this time.

While vehicle malfunctions and environmental factors were found to be at fault a small percentage of the time, overwhelmingly, the critical reason for the crash – 94% – was assigned to the driver. At the national level, this means that the cause of a car accident can be attributed to drivers in an estimated 2,046,000 crashes during this two year period.

Among other things, the report breaks down the 4 most common causes of car accidents, which is probably the most relevant information in the survey for drivers to know in order to improve their own safe driving habits and practice defensive driving. They are as follows: recognition errors, decision errors, performance errors, and non-performance errors.

Recognition errors were the cause in 44% of the crashes they studied. Think of this as failing to recognize what’s happening in front of you. This includes internal and external distractions, driver inattention, and inadequate surveillance. Texting and driving would be included in this category, but it is interesting to note that that’s not the whole story. Drivers who are changing the radio, thinking about something other than the road, or eating are also inattentive to the conditions on the road around them, and are more likely to make a mistake that leads to an accident (like running a red light, not stopping for pedestrians, rear-ending the driver in front of them, etc.).

In order to avoid recognition errors, minimize distractions! The text message or phone call or song choice can wait; your most important priority is to get from your starting point to your destination safely.

Decision errors were the cause in 33% of the crashes they studied. Think of this as making a conscious, wrong judgement call. This includes speeding, speeding around a curve, falsely assuming things about other drivers, maneuvering illegally, and misjudging the speed of other drivers. Reckless driving is a decision error because it is a choice. Interestingly enough, the pandemic has decreased the amount of people on the roads but it has actually increased the amount of reckless drivers (one theory being that there is more space to speed).

Avoiding decision errors is simple – don’t be selfish on the road and follow the rules. Obey the speed limits, wear your seatbelt, and make the decisions that are most likely to keep you and other drivers safe.

Performance errorswere the cause of 11% of the crashes they studied. Think of this as driving poorly without meaning to. This includes overcompensating, poor directional control, panicking or freezing, etc. Inexperienced drivers like teen drivers often make performance errors, but these errors could also occur under unfamiliar conditions, such as driving a new vehicle or driving in another state. Intoxication can also lead to poor driver performance, although intoxication can also be the cause of decision errors.

Teen drivers should have a lot of practice with experienced drivers in the car before they are allowed to transport friends or drive by themselves in unfamiliar conditions. If you are an experienced driver, but are going somewhere new, look at the route ahead of time. It’s easy to say “don’t be a bad driver”, but practically speaking, there are ways to minimize performance errors through education as well! No one should ever get behind the wheel while drunk or buzzed or high, as there are ridesharing services nearly everywhere in the US.

Non-performance errors were the cause of 7% of the crashes they studied. Think of this as things that drivers aren’t actively doing that they should be doing. Among the various non-performance errors, falling asleep at the wheel was the most common cause. Other, undisclosed driver errors that did not fit in any of these 4 categories (recognition errors, decision errors, performance errors, and non-performance errors), accounted for about 8% of the crashes studied.

Falling asleep at the wheel can be deadly – if you’re tired, pull over and take a nap, or get a coffee in a drive-thru, or call a ridesharing service.

It’s important to know what steps you can take to keep you and your family safe as you travel by car, but even if you do everything right, there is no guarantee that other drivers will. 94% of car accidents are preventable, according to this report, but that doesn’t mean they are predictable to responsible drivers who are at the mercy of another driver’s negligence. Unfortunately, you could be the best driver in the world and still be hit by someone who is driving drunk, speeding, texting, or committing one of these 4 errors mentioned above.

If you were hit and injured by someone else, you are legally entitled to seek monetary compensation! Our experienced, aggressive personal injury lawyers can help you understand your legal options, conduct an investigation, and fight for justice on your behalf. To date, we have recovered over $1 billion for injured accident victims in the state of Florida. Call The Florida Law Group today for a free consultation! You never pay our legal fees unless we are able to recover a settlement.