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What are the Common Types of Car Accidents?
Did you know that there are around 6 million motor vehicle collisions each year in the United States? There are many different types of car accidents. Each type of motor vehicle accident presents its own variety of complications and injuries. Different types of car accidents can result in different types of damage to your vehicle and person, some much more serious than others.
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Rear End Car Accident
One of the most common types of car accidents is when one car hits another from behind. This is usually known as getting rear ended or rear ending someone. This type of accident is often caused by distracted driving.
Cell phone usage, eating while driving, and making adjustments to your radio all attribute to distracted driving. According to the NHTSA, roughly 87% of rear end crashes are the result of distracted driving. These cases have been on the rise with the common habit of texting while driving. Poor driving conditions can also contribute to rear end collisions, such as wet or icy roads.
You can help avoid rear end collisions by following these tips:
- Do not drive distracted. It only takes a moment to shift your focus and strike a vehicle in front of you.
- Maintain safe speeds. Driving too fast and not maintaining a safe stopping distance with the car in front of you is a recipe for disaster.
- Avoid applying your brakes suddenly. If you stop rapidly and the car behind you is not driving safely, there is potential for them to strike you from behind.
- Stay aware of your surroundings and environment. This is especially important when road conditions or visibility are poor.
Even though they are one of the most common types of car accidents, rear end collisions tend to be the least severe. This is because they generally happen at lower speeds. Protect yourself and other drivers by always staying alert while behind the wheel.
Head On Collisions
Less common but highly deadly, head on car accidents account for over 10% of all car crash fatalities. This is despite being only 2% of total car accidents in the US, according to the NHTSA. When two vehicles collide while travelling in opposite directions, serious injury and death are often the unfortunate result.
Most head on crashes are due to drunk driving, driving in the wrong lane (or in some cases unsafe passing), distracted driving, or less than ideal driving conditions, such as wet roads that can cause hydroplaning. A head on crash can also occur when a vehicle collides with a stationary object. It is an unfortunate reality that many head on car accidents can result in death. But in less severe cases they can result in other bodily harm such as:
- Spinal cord injuries – a head on collision at a high speed may cause damage to your spine and even paralysis. Sometimes spine injuries and paralysis are permanent.
- Traumatic brain injuries – if your head strikes your steering wheel or another part of your vehicle, it can bruise your brain. Swelling of the brain can also occur. This is a very serious injury that needs immediate medical attention.
- Internal organ damage – your body being forcefully slammed into a part of your vehicle can cause terrible unseen injuries. Rupturing or tearing of organs is very serious and potentially life threatening.
It is reassuring to know that head on collisions are not very common types of car accidents. However, you should always wear your seatbelt and drive defensively to avoid serious harm.
A t-bone car accident is also referred to as a side impact crash or a broadside collision. This is when another vehicle strikes the side of your car at an angle. The name t-bone comes from the shape made when the two vehicles collide.
T-bone crashes are often very serious and can result in major injuries. Even with the use of seatbelts, airbags, and modern car designs meant to protect occupants in the event of a crash, severe injuries and death do occur in these types of collisions. There are a few different ways in which a broadside accident may occur.
- Failure to stop. One car running a red light or stop sign and hitting the other vehicle from the side. This is also sometimes referred to as a failure to yield.
- Improper turning. If you attempt to make a right turn but are not in the appropriate lane, you may pass in front of another vehicle, causing them to hit you.
- Loss of forward motion. A side impact can also occur when a car strikes an immobile object such as a tree, guard rail, or fire hydrant. An example of this would be a car losing traction due to ice and turning sideways.
T-bone, or side impact accidents, are most common in intersections. This is why it is always important to check all directions when crossing through or turning in an intersection, even if you have right-of-way. You can avoid many types of car accidents by simply paying attention to your surrounding.
Sideswipe Car Accidents
Sideswiping is when two vehicles driving next to each other make contact. This type of car accident is different than a broadside, because both vehicles involved are parallel to each other. Sideswiping can occur when one or both cars drift to one side of their lane, potentially crossing over. Another common cause of sideswiping is when a car changes lanes and does not see the other vehicle in their blindspot.
This type of car accident can range from a minor bump to a more serious collision. Sometimes when struck on the side, a driver of a vehicle may jerk the steering wheel. This has the potential to cause their car to spin out or even rollover. In most cases, the damage and bodily injuries are minimal in a sideswipe. The risk and damages increase if a driver loses control of their vehicle due to a sideswipe.
A sideswipe can also occur when a vehicle makes contact with another parked vehicle. Always remember to be aware of other cars or motor vehicles in your blindspot. It is also important to be situationally aware of your vehicle around others, moving or parked.
In a large number of car accidents, the force of one car hitting another can cause a chain reaction. This type of car accident causes damage to multiple vehicles and many people. Also sometimes referred to as a pileup, they can range from as few as three cars to massive numbers of vehicles.
Being involved in a multi-car collision is a scary and confusing experience. There are a few different ways in which this type of car accident can occur.
- One car rear ends another. The struck car then rear ends the car in front of it. While you cannot always avoid being rear ended, you can avoid rear ending someone else by always maintaining safe speeds and stopping distances.
- A driver changes lanes without checking their blindspot. Trying to avoid being struck, the other driver may swerve or apply the brakes, causing them to hit or be hit by a seperate car.
- A collision happens between vehicles and one or both flies into traffic. Other vehicles are then included in the collision by cars still moving from the force of impact.
All of these situations can be very dangerous. Multi-car accidents commonly occur due to drunk or distracted driving. It is also not uncommon to hear about multi-car pile ups when there are poor weather conditions, such as icy roads or lack of visibility.
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.
A hit and run is as it sounds – a vehicle hits another vehicle or a person, and then leaves the scene. Many times people leave the scene of the accident because of intoxication, prior legal trouble, or they do not have insurance.
If you are a victim of a hit and run, be sure to follow these steps.
- Call the police. You will want to have a report of the accident to provide to your insurance company. This is also helpful if you end up finding the at-fault driver and end up taking them to court.
- Collect evidence. If necessary, seek immediate medical attention. If not, collect as many pictures and document as many details of the accident as possible.
- Get medical attention. Even if you do not have any obvious injuries, there are problems that may not present themselves right away. Always see a doctor right after any car crash.
- Reach out to your insurance company. Many states and companies require that you have coverage for uninsured drivers. This coverage also covers you in the event of a hit and run.
If you are ever involved in a collision, no matter the type of car accident, it is vital that you stay on the scene. Even if the incident is minor, all parties involved should discuss the next steps.
Pedestrian Involved Car Accident
Imagine you are out for a jog, walking across a parking lot, or window shopping. It is a scary reality that in these situations, it is possible for a car to strike you. With no protection against the size and speed of an oncoming vehicle, the potential for a pedestrian involved accident is grave. Despite the multitude of traffic laws put in place, the number of injuries in pedestrian involved car accidents are on the rise.
Each year, moving vehicles crash into thousands of people in the United States. Even when the accident did not result in death, a pedestrian hit or run over by a car often suffers massive injuries. Pedestrians are statistically less likely to survive a crash when speeds involved are above 50 MPH.
This type of car accident is particularly scary, as many people feel safe when they are walking in what should be a safe space. As both a driver and a pedestrian, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings and follow safety laws.
Parking Lot Accidents
The majority of parking lot accidents are minor, resulting in nothing more than a dent and an inconvenience. But sometimes parking lot accidents can be devastating. If a car strikes a pedestrian or crashes into another vehicle while traveling at unsafe speeds, the consequences can be steep.
Some of the types of car accidents that occur in parking lots are:
- A car backing out of a parking spot and hitting another parked vehicle or a person.
- The driver of a car backs out of a parking spot into oncoming traffic.
- A car pulling forward from a parking spot and struck by an oncoming car.
- Two cars colliding while trying to take the same parking spot.
- Rear ending a stopped car at a stop sign or who is waiting for a spot.
Situational awareness plays a big part in parking lot accidents. Stay aware of the cars and people moving around you. Always remember to maintain safe speeds when traveling through a parking lot.
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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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