Common Causes of Car Accidents

Common Causes of Car Accidents

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A car accident is a shocking and often traumatic experience. Though we know they happen, we never fully imagine them happening to us and no one is ever really ready for an accident. Nonetheless, accidents happen to an average of over 17,000 people per day in the United States. These accidents cause a great deal of damage including property damage, physical injuries, emotional trauma, and sometimes death.

Every year, over 100,000 people experience a car accident in Colorado alone. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident due to negligence, a Westminster car accident lawyer can help you explore your legal options in Colorado.

Knowing the most common causes of car accidents can help drivers minimize the chances of it happening to them, but what factors and behaviors contribute to car accidents on today’s roadways?

Distracted Driving

Driver distraction has long been a common factor in many car accidents, however, until recent years, distraction meant adjusting a radio, eating a hamburger, or trying to calm crying children in the back seat. Today’s distraction is much more prevalent and dangerous. Since smartphones became a part of daily life, distracted driving causes an ever-increasing number of accidents.

Texting, scrolling through social media, answering emails, and finding playlists are some examples of cell phone distractions responsible for thousands of accidents every year. Some other causes of distracted driving include applying makeup, grooming hair, adjusting sound equipment, and searching for sunglasses in a purse or glove box.


Speed limits are set for good reasons. Exceeding the speed limit can endanger your life and the lives of others. Not only does speeding increase the amount of impact in a crash, but driving too fast causes the following negative effects:

  • Lengthier stop times
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Reduced ability to maneuver around curves, bends, and obstacles.

Speed-related accidents have increased by 5% since 2020. Studies show a significantly decreased accident risk with a simple 20% reduction in driving speed.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs remains a leading cause of car accidents in the U.S. It’s also one of the most deadly causes of crashes on today’s roadways. Despite widespread awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, a startling 43% of Americans admit to driving after drinking and a shocking 56% of men admit to impaired driving. The consumption of alcohol and other mood-altering drugs impacts driving ability in the following ways:

  • Reduces the ability to judge distance
  • Slows reaction times
  • Increases risk-taking behavior
  • Because it’s a depressant, alcohol also causes sleepiness and reduced concentration.

With today’s options for ride-sharing services, there’s never an excuse for driving under the influence.

Unfavorable Weather Conditions

Rain, snow, sleet, and ice, all can cause unfavorable and even dangerous driving conditions. If you absolutely have to drive in bad weather conditions, you should slow your speed accordingly. Driving slower in bad weather increases reaction time, aids visibility, and increases your ability to maneuver on slick surfaces.

Failure to Obey Traffic Laws, Signs, and Signals

Drivers who fail to obey traffic laws, purposely or accidentally fail to stop at stop signs and traffic signals, or don’t yield the right of way properly cause many accidents and great harm to themselves and others. Some common examples of improperly following traffic laws include:

  • Ignoring traffic signals and stop signs
  • Drifting into other lanes
  • Failing to signal a turn
  • Unsafe or illegal passing
  • Tailgating
  • Blocking an intersection

Traffic rules and signals are in place for the protection of everyone on the road. Drivers have a right to expect other drivers to exhibit a reasonable duty of care toward those with whom they share the road.

These common causes of car accidents not only threaten the lives and safety of others on the road, but it’s important to note that engaging in these risk-taking behaviors also leaves the at-fault driver liable in an accident.