Causes of Car Accidents

There are many causes of car accidents; some are within a driver's control and some are not. On the Kansas City roadways, common causes range from a driver being distracted, tired, or under the influence of alcohol to reckless driving and other traffic violations.

Being aware of the risk factors as you get behind the wheel enables you to drive more defensively and learn preventative measures to avoid car accidents. Our goal is to help educate all levels of drivers, from the newly licensed teen driver to the senior driver with years of experience behind the wheel.

Distractions, Alcohol, Fatigue Impact Driver Response

car accidents texting distracted driving driver being distractedDistracted driving is at the top of the list. In 2021, distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives (NHTSA) and each year about 3,000 people die due to distracted driving. In fact, since 2016, between 8% to 9% of fatal crashes have involved distracted driving.

One of the most common distractions while driving is using your cell phone to text, email and talk. Of course, anything that takes a driver’s eyes, hands or attention away from driving increases the risk of an accident occurring.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, both legal and illegal, impair one’s ability to drive. These substances affect one’s vision and hearing, decrease muscle coordination and result in slower reaction times, making that driver a danger to others on the road. Unfortunately, car accidents caused by driving under the influence occur way too frequently.

Every day, about 37 people in the US die in drunk-driving crashes, one person every 39 minutes. In 2021, 13,384 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths, up 14% from 2020

Drowsy driving refers to people who drive when they are tired, sleepy or fatigued. Driver fatigue often leads to reduced attention to the road and a slower reaction time. Just a few seconds of nodding off is enough to cause a car accident. When a driver is drowsy, he or she may have:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • An inability to remember directions
  • Be restless or bored

Data shows that you are three times more likely to be in a car accident if you are fatigued. (NSC)

In 2020, there were 633 traffic fatalities caused by drowsy driving-related crashes (NHTSA) and 1 in 25 drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel (CDC). Drowsy driving accounts for about 100,000 crashes annually, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities each year (AAA Foundation).

Have you been seriously injured in a car accident?

Night driving is another risk factor. It actually doubles the risk of car accidents occurring despite the fact that there is typically less traffic on the roads. Unfortunately, the nighttime makes it more difficult to see any roadway hazards and it is when you are more likely to find drunk or drowsy drivers.

Aggressive driving and road rage have also become a serious problem on our roadways. According to NHTSA and the Auto Vantage auto club show, 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving. When aggressive driving escalates to road rage, drivers sometimes let their emotions take over — tailgating the offending driver, speeding to get around him or her then quickly pulling in front and braking.

Teenagers and inexperienced drivers are a driving hazard. They are more likely to underestimate a dangerous situation and are more likely to drive with distractions (such as texting and driving). According to the CDC, teen drivers are more likely to speed than adult drivers. Their lack of experience often leads to car accidents.

When you have questions, contact our knowledgeable staff at (877) 284-6600.

Reckless Driving and Traffic Violations Cause Car Accidents

Reckless driving is a moving violation where the driver displays a disregard for the rules of the road and it typically involves more than one traffic violation. For instance, a reckless driver may speed, tailgate and change lanes too quickly to get in front of the slower vehicle. The driver’s reckless behavior puts not only his or her own life at risk, but others as well. Reckless driving includes behavior such as:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving without headlights
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Speeding
  • Sudden braking
  • Tailgating

speeding aggressive driving accidents reckless drivingSpeeding is an easy way to cause a car accident. The faster one drives, the less time you have to react and high-speed collisions typically result in devastating injuries and fatalities. Even minor or moderate speeding in the wrong area can lead to disastrous results, such as hitting and killing a pedestrian.

Speeding was a factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2021, killing 12,330 people (an average of 33 people per day). The total number of fatal motor vehicle crashes attributable to speeding was 11,052.

Tailgating means impatient and reckless drivers following too close to the vehicle in front of them. This reckless behavior decreases the amount of time a tailgater has to react. Often, the driver in front of a tailgater decides to tap their brakes in order to get the tailgater to back off. This can create a dangerous situation such as the tailgate driver losing control or slamming into someone’s rear bumper.

Prevent a tailgating accident. Allow a buffer zone between you and the car ahead of you of one car length for every 10 mph you are driving.

car accidents red light running red lights reckless drivingRunning red lights may be considered reckless driving. Often running a red light leads to side-impact collisions at high speeds or cause rollover accidents, which can have deadly results.

Weather, Road and Car Conditions

car accidents rainy weather cause of accidentsWeather, such as rain, snow, ice and fog, can make for treacherous road conditions. Bad weather impairs one’s ability to see. Moisture can make the road slippery. Water can pool on the roadway and create dangerous surfaces causing vehicles to hydroplane, spin out of control or skid while braking. Unfortunately, many drivers (especially younger, less experienced ones) do not know how to drive in bad weather conditions.

The physical condition of the road can lead to car accidents. Roadways that are improperly maintained can make it difficult to maintain traction or stop abruptly. Potholes, caused by the wear-and-tear and weathering of the roads, can cause a tire to blow out or a driver to lose control of his or her car.

Car accidents on dangerous roadway curves often involve fatalities and serious injuries. Drivers, not realizing the severity of the curve, can lose control of their cars, leave the road and slam into a tree or other obstacle.

The car itself can cause car accidents if not maintained properly. For instance, failing to maintain the brakes or worn tires can mean a car won’t stop in time. Under-inflated tires can cause tire blowouts. And, while manufacturers are required by law to design cars that meet a minimum safety standard, design failures occur.

Questions? Contact our knowledgeable staff at (877) 284-6600.

Establishing Negligence in a Car Accident

Negligence is a common cause of car accidents. However, when you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident, you may not know how to prove negligence. The attorneys at Nash & Franciskato take that burden off your shoulders. We know what documentation is needed and what experts to consult. We are experienced car accident attorneys.

attorney defective product lawyer lawyer cause of accidentOur experienced car accident attorneys offer:

  • Over 80 years of combined experience
  • Trusted legal advisor committed to your needs
  • Super Lawyers for over 10 years
  • The AV Preeminence Rating for Ethical Standards & Legal Ability
  • Compassionate advocacy for you and your family

Case Results

$400,000 Settlement: Rear-ended at red light while driving employer vehicle

$100,000 Policy limits settlement, intoxicated driver

More Case Results

Receive a Free Evaluation from Experienced Car Accident Attorneys

In the Kansas City area and across Missouri, when you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident you need a trusted resource who will fight for your rights. Contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Nash & Franciskato for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case.

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Resources for You

More blog articles related to automobile safety and accidents.

Editor’s Note: This page was originally written on March 13, 2016 and was reviewed for content, accuracy and republished on March 25, 2024.

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