Even though there have been many advances in auto safety in the last 20 years, millions of traffic accidents still happen every year. The World Health Organization reports that 1.24 million people die every year because of car crashes. WHO also reports that traffic accident injuries are the top cause of death for people between 15 and 29.

Because so many deaths and injuries are caused by traffic accidents annually, it is wise to know the most common causes of these incidents:


This is by far the top reason for traffic accidents. Many might think that speeding far over the speed limit is what this is all about. But in reality, going even five miles per hour over the speed limit can significantly increase one’s risk for an accident. Every mile per hour faster you go, it takes you longer to stop the vehicle. Speeding also refers to driving above what you should according to road and traffic conditions. Far too many drivers do not slow down, for example, in a rain or snowstorm.

Driving Distractions

Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention from driving tasks. Common distractions are cell phones (calling, texting and Internet surfing), eating, drinking and talking to passengers.

Drunk Driving

Much progress has been made in reducing the number of drunk driving crashes, but thousands of Americans still die every year from DUI. In all states, you are considered intoxicated if you have a .08% BAC. Driving while intoxicated leads to so many injuries and deaths in traffic accidents because alcohol affects vision, reflexes, reaction time and judgement.

Failure to Follow Road Rules

This is a broad category, but it refers to drivers not merging properly, failing to change lanes safely, not yielding right of way, not stopping at stop signs and red lights.

Bad Weather

There are some traffic accidents in bad weather that cannot be avoided, but many can. When it starts to rain or snow, it is necessary to slow down and drive with more caution. There are some serious weather events, such as a heavy downpour, where a driver should pull over and wait for the weather to pass. Failing to do so can cause a serious traffic accident.

Lack of Experience

Traffic accidents happen to all types of drivers, but many happen with younger drivers who do not have as much driving experience. People who are between 17 and 24 tend to have a higher number of auto accidents.

As far as specific types of car accidents, these are the most common:

  • Single car crash: One vehicle is involved. Most of these accidents are people who drive off the side of the road due to inattention or falling asleep. Some also may occur due to a collision with an animal, such as a deer.
  • Side impact crash: This is known as a T-bone collision, too. These accidents happen often in parking lots and intersections where one driver fails to stop or yield. These accidents can be very serious and account for about ¼ of car accident deaths.
  • Rear end crash: This is where a car behind hits the car in front of it. These are mostly caused by driver distraction from cell phones, radio or talking to passengers. Drivers who follow too closely often get in rear end crashes.
  • Head on crash: These are rare auto collisions but are among the deadliest. These accidents often are due to drivers falling asleep or being intoxicated and driving into oncoming traffic.
  • Rollover: Rollover crashes can happen for a variety of reasons; they usually involve a combination of various factors such as speeding, weather, intoxication and/or reckless driving. SUVs with a higher center of gravity are especially prone to rolling over.
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