It's More To Us, It's Personal

Key Takeaways

Human error and risky behaviors contribute to collisions.
Speeding increases the risk of losing vehicle control.
Alcohol impairment is involved in a third of fatal crashes.
Distracted driving causes thousands of deaths yearly.
Awareness of common collision causes can prevent accidents.
Weather hazards require caution and visibility.

Side Bar Form

In a rush? Call us.

(877) 715-9300

"*" indicates required fields

By providing your personal information, you agree to our collection, use, and disclosure of your information as described in our privacy policy. For more details, please review our Privacy Policy.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



What is the Most Common Cause of Collisions?

Key Takeaways

Human error and risky behaviors contribute to collisions.
Speeding increases the risk of losing vehicle control.
Alcohol impairment is involved in a third of fatal crashes.
Distracted driving causes thousands of deaths yearly.
Awareness of common collision causes can prevent accidents.
Weather hazards require caution and visibility.

Driving down a familiar road, you approach a busy intersection. The light turns yellow as you begin braking - but in the rearview mirror, you see that the vehicle behind you is paying little attention to the road. Eyes glued to their phone, they look up a moment too late - and collide with the back of your car in a sickening crunch of metal on metal. Wrecks like this one are often caused simply by a driver’s poor decision-making. When it comes to the most common causes of car accidents and collisions in the United States, human error and risky driving behaviors are top contributors.

At Wettermark Keith, we’ve seen far too many preventable wrecks - and we believe that understanding why these crashes happen can be key to preventing them. This article delves into the main factors behind motor vehicle collisions, including distracted driving, speeding, impairment, and adverse weather. While external variables - like vehicle defects or road conditions - can play a role, human mistakes and judgment lapses are at the root of countless accidents.

The Role of Human Error in Collisions

According to studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the vast majority of motor vehicle crashes involve human error. Some key findings include:

94% of serious crashes are due to dangerous driving mistakes, impaired judgments, or other human factors.

Distracted driving alone contributes to over 3,000 deaths and 400,000 injuries per year.

Drowsy driving leads to roughly 100,000 reported accidents annually, resulting in nearly 800 fatalities and about 50,000 injuries.

Alcohol impairment plays a role in around 31% of all fatal collisions.

While factors like weather, road design, vehicle failure or animals do contribute to some accidents, the consensus among safety experts is clear - the main cause of car crashes comes down to improper human behaviors and decision making behind the wheel.

Driving Distracted Significantly Increases Crash Risks

Driver distraction or inattention is a leading contributor in many motor vehicle accidents. Texting or talking on phones, adjusting music, eating, looking at scenery, dealing with rowdy kids - they all divert focus away from the road. According to the NHTSA, taking your eyes off the road for just 2 seconds doubles your crash risk. Other sobering distracted driving statistics include:

Roughly 9 people are killed and over 1,000 injured daily in the US due to distractions.

Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times higher than driving undistracted.

Reaching for objects increased risk 9-fold in one study - dialing a phone quadrupled it.

Clearly, activities that distract the eyes and mind from driving can have devastating consequences. It’s important for drivers to avoid unnecessary multitasking and stay focused on the road.

Impaired Driving a Leading Factor in Collisions

Driving under the influence of alcohol or other impairing drugs is illegal, but it remains far too common. According to the CDC, around 31% of all traffic deaths involve drunk driving, claiming over 10,000 lives yearly. Drug use also contributes to thousands of fatal crashes.

Substances like alcohol and marijuana slow reaction times, impair judgment, and decrease motor coordination - critical abilities needed for safe driving. Even small amounts can have a measurable detrimental effect on focus, concentration, and response behind the wheel. Never drive impaired - call a taxi, use a ride share service, or identify a designated driver. The consequences are never worth the risk.

Excessive Speeding Causes Loss of Vehicle Control

Driving over posted speed limits or too fast for weather/road conditions is a recipe for crashes. Exceeding speeds lowers driver control through:

Reduced ability to steer safely around obstacles or curves

Decreased effectiveness of brakes to stop in time

Less reaction time to avoid potential hazards or collisions

Difficulty maintaining traction and avoiding skids, especially in wet or icy conditions

Increased potential for rollovers or loss of stability

Speed is a factor in nearly 30% of fatal accidents according to the NHTSA. It’s important to slow down and exercise more caution in adverse conditions - arriving safely outweighs shaving a couple minutes off of the drive.

Inclement Weather Calls for Extra Precautions

Rain, snow, fog, and other weather can impair visibility, reduce traction, and ultimately increase accident risk. Data shows nearly half a million crashes occur annually due to wet pavement. Studies have found that even light rain can drastically increase your chances of a crash.

To mitigate weather hazards:

    Bodily Injury

    Pain and Suffering

    Medical Costs

    Property Damages

    Value of Life Damages

    Adjusting driving to account for lower visibility, slick roads, and longer stopping distances helps minimize crash potential in bad weather.

    The reasons behind car collisions are multi-faceted, but overwhelmingly point toward human error and misjudgment. While drinking and driving, speeding, distraction, fatigue and other behaviors may seem minor in the moment, they can lead to major accidents that can change your life in an instant. Staying aware of these common crash causes and taking preventative actions can help you minimize driving risks and arrive safely at your destination.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    The majority of drivers involved in collisions are those who commit human errors such as distracted driving, impairment from alcohol or drugs, and aggressive driving behaviors. Studies show that these drivers often fail to adapt to road conditions, ignore traffic signals, or are engaged in other activities that take their focus off the road.

    Speed plays a crucial role in the severity of a collision. When a vehicle is traveling at a higher speed, it covers more distance in a shorter time, leading to reduced reaction time for the driver. Additionally, higher speeds increase the force of impact in a collision, which can result in more severe injuries and extensive vehicle damage. Slowing down in traffic and adhering to posted speed limits is essential to reduce the severity of accidents and improve overall road safety.

    Winter conditions, including snow and ice, are indeed a leading cause of weather-related collisions in regions prone to cold climates. Snow and ice can make roads treacherous, reduce traction, and impair visibility, making it difficult for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles. However, other weather-related factors, such as heavy rain, fog, and strong winds, can also contribute to accidents in different seasons and regions.

    Yes - stop signs are critical traffic control devices that are meant to regulate the flow of traffic and prevent accidents at intersections. When drivers fail to come to a complete stop at stop signs, they risk colliding with vehicles from other directions, leading to often severe accidents.

    Teenage drivers are statistically more prone to accidents compared to older, more experienced drivers. Several factors contribute to this increased risk, including a lack of driving experience, greater susceptibility to distractions, and sometimes a tendency to take risks. However, it's important to note that many programs and initiatives exist to improve the safe driving habits of teenage drivers, such as graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems and driver education programs.

    Driver education can have a positive impact on collision rates by providing new drivers with the knowledge, skills, and awareness needed to navigate the roads safely. Comprehensive driver education programs often include classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training, covering topics such as traffic laws, defensive driving techniques, and the dangers of distracted or impaired driving. 

    When drivers receive proper education and training, they are better equipped to make informed decisions and reduce the likelihood of accidents. However, the effectiveness of driver education can vary depending on the quality of the program and the willingness of individuals to apply what they've learned while on the road.


    The most common cause of a collision is human error, including distracted driving, speeding, and failure to obey traffic laws.

    The most common cause of a collision in winter is slippery road conditions due to ice, snow, and sleet, which significantly reduce tire traction and vehicle control.

    The most common cause of a collision at intersections is failing to yield the right of way. Always ensure it's safe to proceed and obey traffic signals and signs to minimize risks.

    The most common cause of a collision on highways is speeding. Driving at high speeds reduces the driver's reaction time and increases the severity of accidents.

    Ready to work together? Contact us today for a free consultation.


    If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.