Which Common Cause of Accidents Causes the Most Collisions?

Personal Injuries

Serious collisions can occur in the blink of an eye. Most people know some of the more common causes of collisions, including things like distracted driving and speeding. When asked about common causes of collisions or fatal collisions, drunk driving accidents often come to mind. What accidents actually cause the most collisions, and how do they affect you out on the road?

Take a look at these statistics to learn more.

“Common Accident Causes: By the Numbers”Common Accidents Causes the Most Collisions

Each year, speeding factors into approximately 26 percent of traffic fatalities, according to the NHTSA. That number has declined in recent years: in 2010, around 32 percent of traffic fatalities involved speeding. According to research by the California Highway Patrol, speeding does continue to act as a factor in approximately 32 percent of traffic accidents.

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Distraction contributes to around 9 percent of traffic fatalities, 15 percent of crashes involving injuries, and 15 percent of police-reported motor vehicle accidents, according to the NHTSA.

The NHTSA also notes that around one-third of fatal accidents in the United States involve inebriated drivers. Drunk driving accidents may account for a higher percentage of fatal accidents because drunk drivers often engage in more dangerous behaviors or have less control over their vehicles than sober drivers, which increases the severity of the collision.

An estimated 21 percent of crashes each year involve some type of weather-related challenge, including:

  • Wet pavement
  • Heavy rainfall
  • Snow and sleet
  • Icy pavement
  • Snowy or slushy pavement
  • Fog

The Federal Highway Administration notes that the majority of weather-related crashes do not occur on snowy or icy roads, although icy conditions might seem to present a greater overall hazard.

Around 70 percent of weather-related crashes occur as a result of wet pavement, and around 46 percent during rainfall. Only around 18 percent of accidents occur during snow or sleet, and about 13 percent on icy pavement, perhaps because drivers are more likely to remain inside and off the road during heavy winter weather.

What Causes the Most Traffic Collisions?

According to the numbers, speeding has a high risk of causing more traffic collisions than any other type of dangerous behavior behind the wheel. Unfortunately, as many as 48 percent of drivers report driving 15 mph or more over the speed limit within the past month. Around 45 percent of drivers admit to driving more than ten mph over the speed limit on residential streets.

Why Does Speeding Contribute to a High Percentage of Accidents?

First, speeding contributes to a high percentage of accidents because drivers continue to speed, despite warnings about the dangers and even the risk of receiving a speeding ticket. However, speeding also has several inherent dangers that can increase the risk of traffic accidents.

Speeding makes it more difficult for drivers to control their vehicles.

At high rates of speed, drivers need to have faster reflexes than they do at lower speeds. As speed increases, drivers must steer earlier, whether they need to navigate around a turn or another vehicle that has pulled out in front of them. Unfortunately, many drivers lack the control they need to navigate safely at those high rates of speed, particularly when they allow themselves to grow distracted or have spent a long time on the road, which increases the risk of road haze.

Speeding increases the time needed to slow or stop a vehicle.

At high rates of speed, vehicles simply need more time to come to a complete stop or even to slow down. Even with the best reflexes, stepping on the brake does not mean that the vehicle stops instantly.

While it may begin the process, the vehicle will need time to reduce its speed to a safer level. Speeding drivers may not have adequate time to respond to a sudden need to stop: a pedestrian that steps out in the road in front of them, another vehicle that stops abruptly, or even an unexpected traffic light change.

Speeding may make it harder for other drivers to predict the speeding driver’s behaviors or rate of speed.

Often, particularly on familiar streets, drivers who need to pull out into traffic or cross traffic will judge the speed of other drivers based on how fast they should move, not necessarily on how fast they do move.

Drivers may also gauge speed based on how fast each vehicle thus far has moved past them. Judging the speed of a fast-moving vehicle can be more difficult when one driver moves at a much faster rate than others in the area.

Unfortunately, increased difficulty in judging speed can make it more difficult for another driver to merge or cross traffic. Due to the high rate of speed, the speeding driver may not have adequate time to get out of the way or avoid a collision.

Speeding also increases the force involved in a collision.

In addition to increasing the risk of accidents in general, speeding also increases the force of the collision. Speeding drivers may slam into other vehicles much faster, which may lead to much more severe injuries.

Speeding and driving too fast for conditions can increase fatality rates and lead to lifelong injuries, including traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. At lower rates of speed, accidents often involve much less severe injuries and damage to the vehicles involved.

Why Do Drivers Speed?

Drivers may choose to speed for various reasons, many of them influenced by circumstances around them.

1. Drivers may speed because they hope to reach their destinations faster.

Often, drivers increase their rate of speed because they feel rushed. They need to reach their destinations faster or have many things that they need to take care of before the end of the day, so they try to pick up their speed to save time.

Unfortunately, speeding may not save as much time as most drivers think. Increasing speed by 10 miles per hour at interstate or highway speeds may save a driver less than ten minutes an hour. But those higher speeds significantly increase accident risk.

Speeding drivers may also snarl traffic and lead to slowed traffic overall, especially in areas with many red lights and traffic signals. Often, keeping up with the flow of traffic decreases accident risk and helps drivers get to their destinations faster than speeding.

2. Drivers may enjoy the thrill.

Some people naturally seek out thrills and adrenaline, and traveling at a high rate of speed provides many people with that rush. Traveling at a high rate of speed means needing to respond fast to anything that happens on the road.

Near-miss accidents can also increase that thrill, which may cause adrenaline-seekers to continue to speed even after coming close to a collision. Some drivers may deliberately seek out more difficult or dangerous roads and speed on those roads for the sake of that thrill.

3. Many drivers adopt an “It won’t happen to me!” attitude.

Many drivers judge their driving skills as above average. In fact, on average, 8 out of 10 men believe they have above-average driving skills. Statistically speaking, that means that 80 percent of people feel that they have driving skills better than at least half of the population. That means people have a dramatically over-confident estimate of their driving skills.

While most people know the dangers of speeding and that speed limits serve as the safest speed at which the average driver can safely navigate a given road, drivers often assume themselves to rise above that average. They may confidently insist that they can safely drive over that speed.

Past episodes of speeding successfully may further increase that confidence. However, speeding can pose a danger to any driver, and failing to adhere to the rules of the road may increase the risk both to the speeding driver and to others around them.

4. Drivers may speed due to excess familiarity with a specific stretch of road.

As people drive the same stretch of road over and over again, often because of the commute between home and work, they may become increasingly confident on that stretch of road. They know its twists and turns. They know where to find stop signs, red lights, and even speed traps. As a result, they may feel more confident increasing their rate of speed.

Unfortunately, familiarity with the road does not extend to potential hazards that could appear suddenly, from new construction in the area to another vehicle that does not behave as expected—increasing the risk of an accident. Furthermore, a high percentage of accidents occur close to home, where drivers have presumably grown complacent on familiar roads.

5. Speeding may occur because of impatience.

After spending time trapped in traffic, many people grow increasingly impatient. Getting out of traffic as soon as possible sounds like the best possible way to avoid future frustrations. Unfortunately, that may lead many people to speed once they finally get out of tight traffic. Impatience can cause people to increase their rate of speed above the safe limit, increasing the risk that they will cause a collision of their own—and slow down other drivers behind them—as they get further down the road.

What To Do After an Accident Involving a Speeding Driver?

After a collision with a speeding driver, what should you do next? Often, you cannot prove the other driver’s speed, especially without a dash camera or traffic camera nearby. However, when speeding factors heavily into the accident, you may feel that it leaves the other driver bearing the brunt of the responsibility for the accident, despite other potential contributing factors.

How can you protect yourself after an accident with a speeding driver?

1. Contact the local police to report the accident.

Do not allow a speeding driver to leave the scene of the accident without reporting it. A speeding driver might insist that they need to hurry to their next destination: work, school, picking up a child. However, getting a police report can be vital to a personal injury claim following the accident. Let the officer know what you observed so that any observations about speeding can go into the accident report.

2. Get medical care for you and any passengers in your vehicle.

Speed-based collisions may mean severe damage to your vehicle and serious injury to everyone inside. Even if you think you did not suffer serious injuries, you may have back and neck injuries, head injuries, or even broken bones that become evident later.

Instead of waiting, seek medical care for yourself and any passengers in the vehicle. A medical report can make it easier to show when your injuries happened, which may prove vital to your claim. Furthermore, seeing a doctor immediately after your accident can provide the medical care you need to increase your odds of making a full recovery from any injuries you may have sustained.

3. Contact an attorney.

If you need to establish the other driver’s dangerous behavior but lack evidence that the driver broke the speed limit or drove too fast for conditions, an attorney can make the process easier. Often, an attorney can help connect you with an expert who can evaluate the damage to your vehicle and the location of the accident to get a better idea of the other driver’s speed, especially if the other driver chose to drive at excessive speeds or drove recklessly. That expert testimony can help establish your right to compensation through a personal injury claim.

An Auto Accident Attorney Can Help After a Collision Involving Speeding

If you suffered injuries in an accident because another driver chose to speed, an attorney can help. Do not get stuck dealing with the other driver’s insurance company alone. Instead, contact a car accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible.