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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

 In short, yes. You as a passenger in the vehicle have the same right to sue for your injuries as the driver. But as the passenger, you cannot be found at fault for the accident. This situation can result in some uncomfortable negotiations; if the driver of the vehicle in which the passenger was riding caused the crash, the passenger may file a lawsuit against their own friend or relative in most states. But you should remember that usually any settlement or pay out will come from the driver’s insurance policy and not from their own funds.

In 2006, more than 60,000 pedestrians were hurt in car accidents. Hitting a pedestrian at more than 30 miles per hour can cause fatal injuries, but it also is possible to severely injure a pedestrian traveling at only 10 miles per hour.

If the driver is at least partially responsible for the accident with the pedestrian, he or she can be sued in most states. If the pedestrian was partially responsible for the crash, they still can file a personal injury lawsuit and recover damages in most states. However, some states will reduce the amount of the award the pedestrian can recover based upon their degree of fault for the crash.

In legal terms, boating accidents are considered the same as motor vehicle accidents in most states. Even though boats are on the water, many of the things that lead to deaths on the roads occur with boats as well. The US Coast Guard reported in 2013 that the most common cause of death in boating accidents was simply inattention. The most common cause of driver deaths on the road is distracted driving. On the water, there may be a tendency to think there is no need to watch as closely as on the roads; after all, there is much more space typically between boats on the open water compared to cars on the road. But boats can close rapidly on one another, and hitting immobile objects with a boat is also very common.

Another very common cause of boating and car accidents is drinking. Drinking and boating is treated the same as drinking and driving. You can receive the same punishments on the water as on the road. And if you injure or kill someone due to drinking alcohol in a boat, you can do jail time and also be sued.

As with most car accidents with damages and injury, you are required to file an accident report for any accident in a boat where there was an injury, death or property damage.

There is no question that motorcycles are much more dangerous than cars. Motorcycles are only 3% of the registered vehicles in the country, but they account for a large chunk of serious and fatal accident injuries. Motorcycles are much more likely to be involved in fatal crashes. A higher percentage of motorcycle accidents are caused by drunk driving, too.

The NHTSA reports that 13 cars out of 100,000 are in fatal crashes, while 72 motorcycles out of 100,000 are involved in fatal accidents. Also, for every mile traveled, motorcyclists have a risk of a fatal crash that is 35 times higher than a car driver. In 2004, there were 37,000 people killed in car accidents and 4,000 killed in motorcycle accidents. But remember that motorcycles are only 3% of registered vehicles on the roads.

Distracted driving is the most common cause of car accidents, with the National Safety Council stating that 25% of car accidents involve cell phone use. The most common cause of motorcycle accidents is cars making a left hand turn without giving right of way. About 42% of all car accidents involving a motorcycle are due to a car turning left. Lane splitting is also a common cause of motorcycle accidents. This practice is not legal in all states; you should check the laws in yours.

A typical passenger vehicle weighs 3,000 pounds while pickup trucks tend to weigh well over 4,000 pounds. Accidents tend to happen in both types of vehicles in roughly the same amounts each year, but there are some differences.

First, as pickup trucks usually weigh more than cars, there may be fewer serious injuries with pickups simply because they are heavier.

However, it should be noted that pickup trucks usually have a higher center of gravity so they can tend to roll in an accident. Vehicles that are taller will always have a greater chance of rolling. Rollovers can lead to very serious and fatal accidents because there is a higher chance of an occupant being ejected from the vehicle.

Another common difference with pickup truck accidents is that many of them are used by companies to do various outdoor work. Generally speaking, pickup trucks are more likely to get into accidents with bikers and pedestrians.

If you think that small cars are more dangerous in accidents, you are right. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the seven most unsafe models were classified as small cars or mini-cars. This data verifies the logical conclusion that smaller cars fare worst in serious crashes. But the data also shows a very large gap in fatalities between the smallest and largest vehicles on our roads.

IIHS date shows these small vehicles are the most dangerous on the roads today:

  • Hyundai Accent
  • Kia Rio
  • Scion tC
  • Chevrolet Spark
  • Nissan Versa
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Kia Soul

The data shows that four door minicars had a rate fatality rate of 87 per million registered vehicle years, versus six for the lowest fatality category which was large luxury SUVs. That means minicars with four doors have a 15 times higher risk of fatalities. The seven worst vehicles listed above had more than 100 driver fatalities per million registered vehicle years.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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