What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents?

There are numerous causes of car crashes, some of which are preventable. In a 2018 analysis, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA) reported 36,560 fatalities and 2.71 million injuries requiring medical attention due to road accidents.

However, car accidents happen more frequently, and it’s essential to know the cause of your crash to determine who is at fault and seek fair compensation for losses. This is because each cause requires a different investigation approach.

If you or a loved one has experienced a car crash in NYC, Uptown Injury Law Firm, PLLC, is committed to thoroughly examining your case to pinpoint the actual cause of the accident. Our dedicated team of New York car accident lawyers will also investigate any liability disputes, ensuring you have a solid foundation for seeking compensation.

Contact us online or call toll-free at 917-540-8728 to arrange a free case review.

Car accident causes

The 20 Most Frequent Causes for Auto Accidents

Car accidents can happen unexpectedly and create hazardous conditions for you. Therefore, it’s essential to understand these common causes to avoid such incidents. Here are the most frequent causes of car accidents that you should be aware of:

1. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become a top issue in recent years, posing significant threats to road safety. As technological advancements and increased connectivity have become integral parts of our lives, the temptation to engage in distracting driving activities has grown.

It includes texting, talking on the cell phone, eating, using GPS, or adjusting the radio. According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 850,000 drivers engage in texting and using their mobile phones while operating vehicles in the United States.

In 2022, studies found that distracted driving activities caused 28,753 auto accidents in New York City. This makes distracted driving the primary reason for accidents in NYC. Therefore, it’s crucial to emphasize the need for undivided attention on the road. To stay safe, you should avoid using mobile phones or GPS to reduce the risks of such behavior.

2. Speeding

Driving over the speed limit—whether it’s by 10, 20, or 30 mph increases the chance of getting into an accident. For example, if you go beyond the speed limit, like more than 20 mph, it becomes harder to prevent collisions.

A study by the NHTSA in March 2018 revealed a big issue with speeding in the U.S. The study found that 26% of fatal car accidents, causing around 13,000 deaths, happened because of speeding. What’s more, 86% of deadly accidents on highways were linked to driving over the speed limit.

It’s important to monitor your car’s speed and stick to safe limits because driving too fast gives you less time to react. By driving responsibly and within the speed limits, you make roads safer for everyone and reduce the number of accidents caused by speeding.

3. Drugged or Impaired Driving

Another major reason for car accidents is when you drive under the influence, such as alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications. In such cases, it can impair your judgment and reaction times. Alcohol alone contributes to 40% of traffic accidents, leading to over 17,000 annual fatalities. Recent findings from the NHTSA reveal that 16% of weekend nighttime drivers, approximately one in six, tested positive for illicit drugs.

Remarkably, in New York state, drugged driving accounts for 30% of accidents. To address this issue, New York City has the legal obligation of Implied Consent Law. Under this law, if you, as a driver, are suspected of driving under the influence, then you must consent to a chemical test (blood, breath, urine, or saliva) to detect the presence of drugs in your system. Refusal to follow this law results in automatic license suspension, irrespective of fault. This law emphasizes the importance of cooperation with testing procedures for the safety of all road users.

4. Reckless Driving

If you engage in aggressive driving activities, such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, or running red lights, it can make you lose control of your car and result in a crash. Reckless driving behaviors not only jeopardize your safety but can also result in legal consequences, such as fines, points on your driving license, and even jail.

To ensure road safety, it is crucial to adopt a defensive driving approach, maintaining attentiveness behind the wheel. By prioritizing caution and adhering to traffic rules, you protect yourself and contribute to a safer driving environment for everyone on the road.

5. Drowsy Driving/Driver Fatigue

Drowsy driving, also known as driver fatigue, poses a significant road threat. According to research conducted by the NHTSA, there were 795 fatalities related to drowsy driving in 2017. In the state of New York alone, 2017 statistics revealed that incidents categorized as “driver fatigue” or “driver falling asleep” contributed to a staggering 2,337 fatalities or personal injury crashes reported by law enforcement.

Furthermore, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) analysis, individuals aged 18-29 account for 71% of such incidents. However, the likelihood of drowsy driving decreases with age, with 56% for individuals aged 30-64 and 19% for those over 65.

Therefore, to reduce the risks associated with drowsy driving, it is strongly recommended that you get an adequate amount of rest before getting behind the wheel. Prioritizing sufficient sleep not only safeguards your well-being but also contributes to the overall safety of the roadways.

6. Running Stop Signs and Red Lights

When you ignore traffic lights and signs, especially at intersections, you increase the chances of motor vehicle accidents. There are two basic types of stop sign mishaps to be aware of. First, there’s the “failure to obey,” which happens when you don’t stop at the sign and ignore it. The second type is “failure to yield incidents,” where both you and the other driver stop, but neither gives the right of way.

According to the NHTSA stats, about 20% of fatal accidents happen because of not stopping at stop signs. On average, there are 2,967 fatalities each year due to these accidents. Nearly half (45%) are “failure-to-obey” crashes, and almost half (48%) are “failure-to-yield” incidents.

Furthermore, a New York City traffic accident report reveals a disturbing increase in red light-related accidents, claiming the lives of 23 pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicle users in February alone. This figure surpasses the corresponding statistics from the previous year (2021). So, following the rules at intersections is a big deal because not doing so can lead to severe accidents and put lives at risk.

7. Inexperienced Drivers

If you’re a new driver, you must realize that facing challenging situations on the road can be riskier when you lack experience. Inexperienced driving is most common among teenage drivers ( 16-17 years), contributing to 8% of car accidents in New York State. In contrast, drivers aged 25-49 contribute 0.5% to car crashes because they lack experience.

To stay safe, focus on developing good driving habits and getting more practice. As you do this, you’ll better handle unexpected situations, making your time on the road safer and more confident.

8. Failure to Yield Right of Way

This is another major cause of car collisions. Ensuring everyone follows the right-of-way rules is crucial to avoid accidents, especially at intersections. In New York, these rules are outlined in the Vehicle and Traffic Law Code (NY VTL), Title VII, Article 26, and apply to drivers and pedestrians.

According to NY VTL Section 1142, if you see a stop sign, you must come to a complete stop. For example, at intersections with four-way stop signs, all vehicles should yield the right-of-way to the one that enters first.

Similarly, NY VTL Section 1140 states that if you’re approaching an intersection and another vehicle is already in it from a different highway, you must yield the right-of-way. If two vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at the same time, the one on the left should yield to the one on the right.

Therefore, following these rules helps ensure traffic moves safely at intersections, reducing the chances of accidents caused by not giving the right-of-way when required by law.

9. Tailgating

When you follow the vehicle in front of you too closely, it reduces your reaction time and increases the risk of rear-end and head-on collisions. Therefore, it is important to maintain an appropriate distance of at least one car length for every 10 mph you travel. Alternatively, you can avoid tailgating by maintaining a distance of 2 to 3 car lengths between your vehicle and the one in front.

This proactive approach minimizes the likelihood of collisions and provides you with the necessary time and space to respond effectively to unexpected situations on the road.

10. Driving Through Poor Road Conditions

Road hazards can also contribute to car accidents. It includes potholes, uneven road surfaces, wet or slippery roads, and lack of street lighting. Furthermore, uneven roads can decrease wheel traction, making it challenging for a car to come to a stop on time.

If your accident happens because of an improperly maintained road, you can hire a car accident attorney to help you submit a claim and seek compensation. He/She can guide you through the process and hold responsible parties accountable for road maintenance problems.

11. Driving in Bad Weather Conditions

Bad weather conditions, like fog or rain, can make roads slippery and reduce your visibility, leading to most car accidents. Be extra careful in icy or snowy conditions, especially with black ice, as it’s tough to spot.

When driving in fog or rain, slow down before bridges, keep your speed below the limit, and maintain a safe distance of two to three car lengths behind the vehicle ahead. Stay safe by adjusting your driving to the weather conditions.

12. Vehicle/ Design Defects

Every car has flaws, and data from the NHTSA reveals that about 6.8% of road accidents happen because of vehicle issues. In New York, common problems leading to accidents because of vehicle defects include:

  1. Brake, engine, and light failures
  2. Tire blowouts
  3. Steering system problems
  4. Airbag malfunctions
  5. Weak windshields
  6. Leaks from the radiator and other parts

Thus, to stay safe, it’s crucial to check and maintain your vehicle regularly. Keep an eye on your brakes, lights, tires, steering, airbags, and more. Fixing these issues early can prevent accidents and keep you safe.

13. Medical Emergencies

Sudden medical issues, such as a heart attack or seizure, can also lead to an accident. Thus, if you have a medical condition, ensure it’s well-managed before you drive or travel in a car.

14. Obstructed Views

Overgrown plants, poorly placed signs, or obstacles on the road can block your view and lead to accidents. It’s crucial to report these issues to local authorities and drive carefully.

If you encounter such problems, the Uptown Injury New York car crash lawyers can assist in reporting them to law enforcement. Our legal team understands New York laws and can help you get the compensation you deserve for any damages. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

15. Night Driving

Most people are unaware that driving at night can double the risk of accidents. When you drive at night, it can reduce your visibility because of the absence of natural light. This can make it challenging for you to spot obstacles, pedestrians, or other vehicles. Furthermore, night driving can also cause drowsiness, which can lead to more severe car collisions.

16. Improper Turns

Whether a hurried left turn at a busy intersection or an ill-timed right turn without yielding to oncoming traffic, improper turns can have serious consequences. In the year 2022, New York witnessed a total of 2,514 vehicular collisions because of improper turns while driving.

If you fail to use signals appropriately, misjudge the speed of oncoming vehicles, or neglect to check blind spots before executing a turn, all contribute to the risk of car accidents. Thus, it’s crucial to be aware of traffic rules and obey them to reduce the frequency of crashes due to turning your car improperly.

17. Teenage Driving

Teenage driving is a significant factor contributing to the causes of car accidents. As a young driver, your limited experience on the road can lead to slower judgment and reaction times.

In a recent study by Bumper, New York State holds the 15th position in the United States concerning teenage driving fatalities. The findings from the past three years expose a concerning trend, indicating that out of 1,045 auto accidents in New York, a staggering 105 were caused by teenage drivers. Disturbingly, the study highlights a mortality rate of 3.55 per 10,000 young drivers. Further data analysis also showed that the rate spikes to 41.6% during summer months, with August emerging as the deadliest month for teenage driving fatalities.

Therefore, parents and young drivers must take responsibility by using seat belts and adhering to posted speed limits to prevent tragic accidents involving teen drivers.

18. Unsafe Lane Changes

Unsafe lane changes happen when one driver collides with another while switching lanes, often because the driver failed to check for other vehicles. This can also occur unintentionally due to distracted or reckless driving, causing unexpected lane changes and accidents.

New York’s laws on unsafe lane changes, detailed in N.Y. VTL §1128, emphasize that drivers must ensure it’s completely safe before changing lanes. The law specifies that the left lane is for passing or left turns, and certain vehicles, like trucks, may need designated lanes. Additionally, drivers should not cross hazardous markings, such as double-yellow lines.

Despite these laws, the impact of unsafe lane accidents is concerning. In 2019, a study by the Insurance Information Institute reported 3,381 deaths attributed to unsafe lane changes. Data from June 2021 reveals 219 out of 10,094 motor vehicle collisions in New York were caused by unsafe lane changes.

Engaging in such behavior is dangerous and a traffic violation with severe penalties. However, if you find yourself facing a traffic ticket, Uptown Injury New York car crash lawyers can help. Our attorneys can defend and represent you in court, offering a chance to dismiss your case.

19. Wrong Way Driving

Driving the wrong way means operating your vehicle against the traffic flow on the road. This dangerous behavior puts you and others at risk of head-on collisions. This usually happens when you’re confused, impaired, or ignore road signs.

In New York, if you violate the one-way street rule (according to VTL §1127), you’ll face penalties. For the first offense, there’s a fine of about $150 and a possible 15 days in jail. If you repeat the offense, these penalties will double.

A study conducted (2010-2018) by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAAFTS) showed that wrong-way driving caused 2,921 fatal crashes, resulting in an average of 430 deaths annually. Out of these, 52.8% were caused by wrong-way drivers, 5.7% by passengers, and 41.1% by occupants of other vehicles.

To avoid such incidents, follow posted road signs and pay attention to directional arrows. Additionally, use GPS systems to stay on the correct route and be aware of one-way streets.

Reckless drivers causes of car accidents in new york

Tips to Reduce Car Accidents

You can reduce car accident risks when you adopt safe driving habits with a commitment to your safety. Here are a few tips for you to reduce such risks:

  1. Ensure you always wear seat belts. Seat belts can reduce your chances of injuries in a car crash.
  2. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and understand the actions of other drivers. Therefore, defensive driving can help you react to potential hazards in advance.
  3. Statistically, more accidents occur at night. If possible, you must limit nighttime driving, especially if you’re fatigued.
  4. You must keep yourself up-to-date with changes in traffic laws and safety regulations because understanding the rules of the road is crucial for you to drive safely.
  5. Plan your routes and allow extra time for your journey. Rushing can lead to aggressive driving and an increased risk of a car accident.

Seek Justice With Uptown Injury NYC Car Accident Lawyers

If you or your loved one has been involved in a car accident, Uptown Injury Law Firm, PLLC, is here to help you seek justice and the compensation you deserve. Our team has skilled and knowledgeable car accident lawyers specializing in auto accident cases. We will listen to your car accident story, assess your case, and provide you with a clear path to seeking justice and compensation.

With more than 15 years of work history, we have successfully represented car accident victims, securing $100 million in settlements and verdicts. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay us unless we win your case. So you can take care of your well-being while we handle the legal aspects of your case.

Contact us or call our number toll-free at 917-540-8728 to schedule your FREE legal consultation today.



Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers
Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers

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