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Causes of Car Accidents

Common Causes of Car Accidents

In Pennsylvania, car accidents are a prevalent issue impacting the well-being of its citizens and the safety of its roadways. This state has approximately 120,000 miles of roads and highways connecting its diverse topography, ranging from the rural landscapes of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to bustling urban centers like Center City in Philadelphia, leading to a wide variety of factors contributing to vehicular collisions.

From driver error to reckless drivers, auto accidents commonly cause serious personal injuries or even death. An awareness of common causes of car accidents can help you prevent them. Should you or a loved one be injured or killed due to a car accident, the experienced personal injury lawyers at PhillyLaw will provide guidance and support as you navigate life after a car accident. Call one of our car accident attorneys today for a free consultation.

The Most Common Cause of Car Accidents

The leading cause of car accidents in the United States is distracted drivers. This encompasses a range of actions, from texting or using a cell phone or other electronic devices, adjusting the radio, to eating or even talking to passengers – essentially any activity that diverts attention from driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in 2021 alone.

This perilous behavior compromises the safety of not only the driver but also passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers. The advent of smartphones has notably heightened the risk, making distracted driving a national concern and leading to increased enforcement and public awareness campaigns to combat this dangerous habit and stop potentially fatal car accidents from distracted driving.

Other Top Causes of Car Accidents

While distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents, numerous other factors contribute to the high incidence of car accidents in the United States. Understanding these can help in formulating effective preventive measures. Here are some of the top causes of car accidents:


Exceeding the speed limit is a major cause of a car accident. Speeding significantly amplifies the risk of car accidents by lessening the driver’s reaction time to unforeseen events or hazards on the road. When driving at higher speeds and exceeding the speed limit, the distance required to bring a vehicle to a complete stop increases, making it challenging to react swiftly enough to avoid collisions, especially in sudden traffic stops or when navigating around obstacles.

Furthermore, high velocity impacts are often more severe, leading to more serious injuries or fatalities. Therefore, maintaining the speed limit is not just a legal requirement, but a crucial safety measure to reduce the likelihood of accidents and protect everyone on the road.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Drunk Driving

Alcohol and drugs impair cognitive and motor skills critical for safe driving, significantly increasing the risk of car accidents due to drunk driving. Drunk driving is also more likely to cause fatal accidents. In 2022 in Pennsylvania, alcohol-related car accidents were 27% of the total traffic fatalities and were nearly five times more likely to result in fatal injury than those not related to alcohol. Avoiding drunk driving by abstaining from alcohol before driving, or opting for alternative transportation methods such as taxis, rideshare services, or public transport can save lives and prevent the irreversible consequences of drinking and driving.

Reckless Driving

Car accidents occur when aggressive driving behaviors such as changing lanes too quickly, unsafe lane changes, tailgating, and disregarding traffic signals create an unsafe environment for other drivers. This aggressive behavior reduces the time drivers have to react to traffic conditions, increases the chance of losing control of the vehicle, and escalates the severity of collisions. It’s not just the reckless driver at risk, but everyone in proximity on the road—their passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians. Reckless driving accidents often result in traumatic outcomes, reinforcing the need for strict adherence to traffic laws and respect for road safety protocols.

Inclement Weather Conditions

Rain, snow, ice, and fog can all reduce visibility and traction, making a car accident more likely due to poor road conditions. Heavy fog reduces visibility dramatically, increasing the chance of accidents. Slippery conditions from ice can make it difficult to control the vehicle. Accumulation of snow can obstruct vision and make roads treacherous. Pay attention to the weather to ensure you take precautions in inclement weather situations.

Running A Red Light or Ignoring A Stop Sign

Failing to observe stop signals at traffic lights or stop signs can lead to collisions at intersections.

Driver Fatigue or Drowsy Driving

Tired drivers have diminished reaction times and can fall asleep at the wheel. Similar to fatigue, drowsy driving can result from inadequate sleep, working long hours, or sleep disorders.

Poor Road Conditions

Potholes, uneven roads, and lack of proper signage can contribute to a car accident.

Wrong-Way Driving/Improper Turns

Entering a road in the wrong direction or making incorrect turns can lead to head-on collisions.

Teenage Drivers

Young drivers, due to their lack of experience behind the wheel, are more prone to making judgment errors and risky decisions on the road. This demographic is particularly susceptible to distractions such as texting, talking on cell phones, or interacting with passengers, which further elevates their risk of causing accidents. The combination of inexperience and the propensity to underestimate dangerous situations leads to higher instances of speeding and reckless driving among teenagers.

Additionally, this age group may not fully understand or appreciate the consequences of aggressive driving behaviors, contributing to a higher incidence of traffic violations and accidents. Ensuring teenage drivers receive comprehensive driver education and practice safe driving habits is crucial in mitigating these risks.

Night Driving

Limited visibility at night increases the accident risk.

Design Defects

Vehicle malfunctions due to design defects can cause the driver to lose control.

Improper Lane Changes

Changing lanes without proper signaling or checking blind spots can lead to collisions.


Following too closely gives the driver less time to react if the front car suddenly stops.

Driving Under the Influence of Medications

Both over-the-counter and prescription drugs can impair driving ability.

Animal Crossings

Animals on the road can surprise drivers, especially in rural areas, leading to accidents. A recent study by State Farm has indicated that Pennsylvania has one of the highest number of animal-related crashes. Drivers can take preventative measures like slowing down and staying alert when driving in more rural areas.

Inadequate Vehicle Maintenance

Inadequate vehicle maintenance is a significant yet often overlooked cause of traffic accidents. Regular maintenance checks are critical in ensuring that essential parts like brakes, tires, and lights are functioning properly. Neglecting these checks can result in unforeseen malfunctions while driving. For instance, worn-out brake pads may not provide the necessary stopping power in critical moments, increasing the risk of a collision. Similarly, old or improperly inflated tires can lead to reduced traction, especially under adverse weather conditions, making accidents more likely. Ensuring that your vehicle is regularly serviced and any potential issues are addressed promptly can substantially decrease the likelihood of malfunctions that could lead to serious accidents.

Road Rage

Aggressive behaviors due to frustration or anger can lead to dangerous situations on the road causing a car accident.

Improperly Loaded Cargo

Trucks with improperly secured or overloaded cargo can lose balance or shed debris, leading to accidents.

Tire Blowouts

A sudden tire burst can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Distraction from Passengers

Conversations or interactions with passengers can divert the driver’s attention from the road.

By addressing these causes through stricter laws, better road design, and public awareness campaigns, we can work towards reducing the number of car accidents in the United States.

The Importance of Understanding the Main Causes of Car Accidents

Understanding the main causes of car accidents is crucial for multiple reasons. Firstly, it enables authorities and policymakers to devise more effective safety protocols and educational programs aimed at reducing the likelihood of accidents. For instance, knowing that distracted driving is a significant factor, measures such as stricter texting-while-driving laws can be implemented.

Secondly, awareness among drivers can lead to more cautious behavior on the road, potentially saving lives. Lastly, identifying common causes can help design safer road infrastructures and improve vehicle technologies to mitigate these risks, enhancing road safety for everyone.

If You Have Been Injured in a Car Accident, PhillyLaw is Here to Assist

At PhillyLaw, we understand the profound impact a car accident can have on you and your loved ones. Whether it’s dealing with injuries, navigating emotional trauma, or facing the loss of a family member, the aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming. That’s why our team of seasoned attorneys is dedicated to providing comprehensive support and guidance through these challenging times. If you have suffered as a result of any of these common causes of car accidents, you can trust PhillyLaw to stand by your side, offering the expert legal representation you need to secure the justice and compensation you deserve. Call today for a free consultation.