The 6 Most Common Causes of car Accidents in the United States

The first automobile accident that resulted in a fatality occurred in 1896 in London, England. At the time, the coroner that examined the body said, “This must never happen again.” Unfortunately, since that accident more than 25 million people have died in car accidents. The saddest part of this statistic is that we all know that most of these accidents could have been avoided. The death toll continues to rise as roads become more crowded and people become more distracted behind the wheel of their cars. Let us take a look at the 6 most common causes of car accidents in the United States.

Distracted Drivers

Distracted drivers are the number one cause of accidents on US highways.

The AAA has done extensive research that tells us that anywhere between 25% and 50% of all car accidents have driver distraction of some type as a root cause. There are many things that can distract modern drivers. The reason that this is such a prevalent cause of accidents is that most people multi-task all day. This makes them feel like they can also multi-task behind the wheel of their cars. Let us look at the most common driver distractions.

  1. Rubbernecking at the scene of an accident is the number one cause of accidents. While doing research an officer was interviewed and stated that he has had as many as 3 more accidents occur while on the scene of an accident.
  2. Looking at scenery
  3. Being distracted by others in the car, especially children
  4. Tuning the stereo system
  5. All other distractions, including cell phones, reading, applying make-up, and combing hair. Being distracted by a cell phone is quickly moving up the list of distractions.

Driver Fatigue

Drivers’ driving while they are tired comes in second place on the list of the most common causes of car accidents in the United States. More than 100,000 accidents are caused by a drowsy driver. The times of day when you are most likely to encounter a drowsy driver are between the hours of 11 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Drunk Driving

This next reason for accidents should not be a surprise to anyone. Actually, the surprise for most people is that this cause is not further up the list. In 2004, it is estimated that 16,654 people were killed in accidents that involved drunk drivers. This averages out to an accident every 30 minutes.


Speeding is so deadly because it is a many-headed threat. When drivers are speeding, they have less time to react to things that happen around them. A car malfunction at high speed is also magnified. Another factor of speeding is if the driver is involved in an accident, the increased speed makes the accident worse.

Aggressive Driving

It is also surprising that this one is not closer to the top of the list. There are many things that constitute aggressive driving, and although every state has laws against aggressive driving it is still a major problem.

The Signs of an Aggressive Driver

  1. Tailgating
  2. Flashing lights at other drivers because they have made you mad
  3. Rude gestures
  4. Blocking another driver with their car
  5. Disregarding traffic signals

These are the top five aggressive behaviors; you could also include verbal abuse, physical assaults, weaving in and out of traffic, and failure to yield the right of way.


This should not be a surprise entry into the list either. Driving in bad weather includes snow, ice, heavy rain, fog, hail, and high winds. Any of these conditions can cause a driver to crash, especially those that are not accustom to driving in bad weather.

These are the 6 most common causes of car accidents in the United States. There are many other things that cause car accidents. It seems that the more safety features, and the more technology that is added to vehicles the more accidents happen. Is it all due to heavier volumes of traffic? Alternatively, are drivers becoming overwhelmed by all the things inside their car? The GPS is shouting at you, the woman in the rearview mirror is asking you if you need directions, the outside mirrors are flashing, and the phone is ringing. Between overwhelming traffic and all of the things going on inside the car, it is no wonder a driver is distracted.


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