What are the Common Types of Car Accidents?

There are as many different types of car accidents as there are models of cars, each one representing different dangers, damages, and injuries. Below we discuss some of the more common types of auto accident, and links to pages where we discuss each type in more detail.

Common Types of Car Accidents:

Rear Ended/Hit From Behind: One of the most common type of car accident is when one car hits another from behind, usually known as getting rear ended or rear ending someone. Often caused by distracted driving on the part of the rear driver when the front car stops, unfortunately these are increasing in frequency as more people text and drive. According to the NHTSA, roughly 87% of rear end crashes are the result of distracted driving.

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Head On Collisions: Less common but highly deadly, head on car accidents account for just over 10% of all car crash fatalities despite being only 2% of total car accidents in the US, according to the NHTSA. When the force of one car going full speed hits another, going in the opposite direction full speed, serious injury and death are often the unfortunate result.

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Sideswipe/T-Bone Accidents: Occurring as a result of one car running a red light or stop sign and hitting the other vehicle from the side, or from lane changes where the driver isn’t looking or is in a blind spot, these can be damaging to car

common types of car accidentsdoors and cause serious injuries to arms, legs and ribs, especially in a more serious impact.

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Multi-Car/Chain Reaction Car Accidents: In a large number of car accidents, the force of one car hitting another can cause the car being hit to run into other cars, potentially causing damage to multiple vehicles and more people.

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Hit and Run Car Accidents: Roughly 11% of all reported traffic accidents in the US, and nearly 20% of all pedestrian deaths caused by a car accident, end up with at least one party fleeing the scene. Sadly, the number of hit & run fatalities is on the rise according to the NHTSA, with 1449 reported hit &run fatalities in 2011, up from 1274 just two years prior. In Los Angeles in 2009, hit and run accidents accounted for nearly half of all car crashed, according to LA Weekly.

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Pedestrian Hit By Car: With no protecting against the sheer size and speed of an oncoming vehicle, pedestrians are often sitting ducks when hit by cars. Despite the multitude of traffic laws put in place to protect pedestrians and bicyclists from getting hit by cars, the number of injuries in this type of car accident rose nearly 15%, from 61,000 in 2006 to 70,000 in 2015, while the number of pedestrian fatalities rose roughly 12%, from 4795 to 5376 during the same time period, according to the NHTSA.

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Injured Passenger: When a passenger in a car gets injured in a collision, usually the at fault driver (or drivers) is responsible for any damages owed to the passenger for medical treatment, loss of income or other expenses related to their injuries. The passenger is practically never found at fault for a car accident.

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Parking Lot Accidents: While the majority of parking lot accidents are minor, result in nothing more than a dent and an inconvenience, sometimes parking lot accidents can be devastating. This is especially true when a car strikes a pedestrian or is driving at excessively high speeds for a parking lot.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common car involved in accidents?

BMW models topped the list of cars most likely to have reported damage in 2017, according to Wikilender. The 4 series was the most common car involved with accidents, with 18.5% of all 4 series cars on the road having been damaged in 2017. A close second was the BMW X1, with an even 18% of all cars being damaged.

What type of crashes are more common than any other type of crash?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports the most common type of car accident is the rear end collision. The agency states this type of crash accounts for 30% of all car accidents. The NHTSA found in a 2007 study that drivers in rear end accidents are often engaged in activities that take their attention from their driving. Also, 64% of people in rear end crashes were not looking at the roadway when the crash happened.

Another common type of car crash is the side impact crash. The NHTSA stated in 2009 that these accidents were 27% of all accident deaths in America. These accidents include the classic T bone collision that happens when one driver does not stop at an intersection where the other has the right of way. These accidents are more likely to be fatal because the sides of cars and trucks do not have the same amount of energy absorption potential as the front and rear of vehicles.

The third most common type of car accident is the single vehicle crash that can happen for a variety of reasons. This accident is especially common for teen drivers. Common reasons include running off the road due to fatigue or distraction, slipping on ice and hitting stationary objects.

What are some different types of road traffic accidents?             

In addition to rear end, single vehicle and side impact collisions, these are other types of common road traffic accidents:

  • Vehicle rollover: These are extremely dangerous and frightening accidents. They occur when the vehicle flips onto the roof or side in an accident. Any type of vehicle can roll over, but SUVs are most vulnerable due to their higher center of gravity. Rollovers can occur when taking a turn at too high of a speed. These accidents can cause vehicle ejections, spinal cord injuries, head trauma and death.
  • Head on crash: These very serious accidents often occur when a driver goes the wrong way on a highway at night. Head on crashes also are often caused by intoxicated drivers. Another common scenario is where a driver on a two lane road loses control of the vehicle due to distraction, fatigue or intoxication and crosses the yellow line into oncoming traffic.
  • Hit and run: This is an accident where the driver hits another car or person and leaves the accident scene before the police arrive. All states require drivers involved in an accident with property damage or injury to stay at the scene until the police arrive. If there is serious injury, the driver is required to stay and render aid.
  • Pile ups: This is a multiple vehicle crash that often occurs on busy highways. A common cause is a traffic jam caused by construction, bad weather or another accident. One driver does not slow down and rear ends another vehicle stopped ahead. This can cause a pile up with serious and fatal injuries.

What is the most common cause of a collision?

Current statistics show the most common causes of car accidents are:

  • Distracted driving: Driver distraction is the most common cause of car accidents. Distraction can be caused by many things – cell phone use, drinking, eating, talking to passengers, intoxication, fatigue and others. Thousands of people die due to driver distraction every year.
  • Speeding: Driving above the speed limit has been shown repeatedly to kill. Speed limits are set to save lives. When people go faster, very serious accidents can occur. Also, speed limits are set for ideal conditions. It is common for drivers to drive too fast for conditions, such as darkness or poor weather. Driving at the theoretical speed limit in bad weather can be just as dangerous as driving well over the speed limit.
  • Drunk driving: Approximately 10,000 people are killed every year from drunk driving. When you drink even a single drink, you lose your ability to focus on tasks, and it becomes more difficult to handle the various complex tasks required to drive safely. While the legal limit for most states is .08% BAC, it is dangerous to drive with any amount of alcohol in your system.
  • Reckless driving: This can be a variety of dangerous driving actions, from changing lanes too fast, to speeding, to tailgating.
  • Rain: Driving too fast for conditions is a common cause of accidents, and rain is a common reason. When the road is wet, it takes longer to stop. It is important to always slow down when the road is wet. It also is dangerous to drive too fast when the road is wet because of the danger of hydroplaning. In this situation, the rubber of the tire briefly loses contact with the road. This can lead to a spin out and complete loss of vehicle control.

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Which collision type is considered to be the most serious?  

While they are relatively rare, the head on collision is the type of accident with the most fatalities. Data indicates that head on accidents account for 54% of all traffic deaths, as of 2015, but they are only 2% of all crashes. The reason is that both cars are traveling at speed in opposite directions so, the impact forces are doubled. If both cars are going 45 MPH, the impact speed is 90 MPH. This is enough force to cause serious and usually fatal injuries.

However, rollover accidents also cause a high number of injuries and are more common than head on crashes. Rollovers account for 1/3 of all road deaths in the US. This could be because more people are ejected from the vehicle in a rollover. Being thrown from the vehicle either through the windshield or a side window nearly always results in grave injury or death.