Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in the U.S.

The United States has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the industrialized world. Although more safety measures are in place than ever before, car accidents and vehicle fatalities continue to climb. Luckily, awareness of the most common causes of accidents in the U.S. makes it easier to spot — and hopefully avoid — the same fate. 

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the top causes of car accidents in the U.S. It includes anything that can take your attention off the road like:

  • Texting,
  • Fiddling with the stereo,
  • Looking at a navigation system,
  • Taking a phone call, and
  • Eating or drinking.

In 2020, 3,142 people were killed nationwide in accidents involving distracted drivers. Most states have laws to combat this alarming trend.


Speeding significantly increases your risk of getting into a fatal car accident. In 2019, there were 9,592 speed-related deaths in America. In 2020, that number increased by 17% to 11,258 speed-related deaths. Some common causes of speeding are:

  • Running late,
  • Anonymity,
  • Traffic, and
  • Recklessness.

To avoid being involved in a speed-related accident, do not engage in risky behavior. If there are other cars speeding, give them ample room and switch lanes if necessary. The few minutes you might save are not worth the risk.

According to the professional car accident attorney at The McCallister Law Firm in Kansas City, car victims can recover compensation for the damages they may have suffered due to someone else’s negligent driving.

Drunk Driving

Every day, about 32 people die as a result of drunk driving. This amount increased in 2020 by 14%. Many people do not realize that driving after only one or two drinks can significantly impact your motor functions and make it difficult to operate a vehicle. A blood-alcohol concentration of just .05 results in reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, and reduced response to emergency driving situations. With a blood-alcohol concentration of .08—the legal limit for drinking and driving in most states—people have difficulty concentrating and experience short-term memory loss, lack of speed control, reduced information processing capability, and impaired perception. 

Rain or Snow

Weather-related conditions have a considerable effect on driving safety and contribute to burgeoning accident statistics. An estimated 70% of U.S. roads are located in snowy regions of the country. About 24% of weather-related crashes involve icy or snowy roads. Snow and other inclement weather like rain significantly reduce visibility. Black ice or wet roads substantially increase the chance of getting into a car accident. According to personal injury attorney Wendy Doyle-Palumbo, if you pair that with other factors that contribute to car accidents, it is unsurprising that rain and wet pavement are the top contributing factors to weather-related accidents. 

Running Red Lights

Running red lights accounted for about 928 car accident deaths in 2020. Red-light running subjects people to traffic violations and infractions on their licenses. Even though red-light running comes with hefty fines, people still take their chances on the road. Allowing your vehicle to enter the intersection after a light has turned red is considered running a red light. Some states make exceptions and differentiate based on whether your vehicle’s back tires left the stop line before the light turning red. 

The list of common causes of car accidents in the U.S. goes on: fog, hail, wind, inexperienced teen drivers, nighttime driving, and vehicle malfunctions, to name a few. Whatever the cause, remaining aware of the factors that cause car accidents can help you stay safe.


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