causes of car accidents

What are the Most Common Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents?

In California, there are more than 100,000 vehicle collisions each year, resulting in more than 3,000 fatalities and tens of thousands of serious injuries. This makes auto crashes one of the leading causes of death in the Golden State.

It is estimated that more than 90% of car and truck accidents are caused by some type of negligence or human error. The rest are due to uncontrollable factors such as inclement weather, earthquakes, animals jumping in front of your car, etc. As you might expect, night times and weekends are the most dangerous times for auto accidents, and children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to serious injuries.

There are many reasons motor vehicle accidents occur, some of the most common include:

Distracted Driving

It is estimated that approximately 80% of all auto accidents involve some form of driver distraction. This could mean visual distractions such as becoming fixated on a sign or billboard for too long, manual distractions such as reaching for an object that fell to the floor, audio distractions such as turning the radio too loud to hear what is happening on the road, or cognitive distractions such as screaming at a child in the back seat or just daydreaming. The advent of smartphones has created a distracted driving epidemic. Texting and other electronic activities have the potential to distract drivers in multiple ways, which takes their focus completely off of the road and heightens the risk of causing an accident.


Speed kills, and speeding has always been one of the leading causes of fatal accidents. When someone is exceeding the speed limit or driving faster than the conditions warrant, they have far less time and space to react to adverse road conditions that may arise. Collisions at high speeds also bring maximum force to vehicles and the occupants inside, which greatly increases the chances widespread property damage and serious and catastrophic injuries.

Reckless Driving

Driving aggressively or recklessly is another major contributor to car and truck accidents. Speeding excessively is one common example of reckless driving. Others include running stop lights and stop signs, following too closely/tailgating, illegal or dangerous turns, illegal or dangerous passing maneuvers, wrong way driving, weaving in and out of lanes or straddling the center line, and street racing. A reckless driver is usually in a state of mind where they have willful and wanton disregard for the rules of the road and the safety of others, and those who drive this way put themselves and everyone they share the roads with at great risk.

Driving while Intoxicated

Drunk Driving has always been one of the leading causes of vehicle accidents. Despite decades of high-profile public awareness campaigns that warn us about the dangers of this behavior, far too many individuals still make the horrible and often fateful decision to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Those who drive drunk have impaired motor skills and slower reaction times. They also tend to exercise very poor judgment and sometimes even drive recklessly because of their chemically altered state of mind.

Drowsy Driving

Nearly 100,000 vehicle crashes in the U.S. are caused by a drowsy or fatigued driver. Drowsy driving is most common among those who get six hours or less of sleep each night, and some of the groups that are at greatest risk include commercial vehicle drivers, those who work long shifts that go into the evening and overnight hours, individuals with untreated sleep disorders, and those who frequently travel between time zones. Drowsy driving is often a contributing factor in commercial trucking accidents.

Third-Party Causes

Some auto accidents are caused by parties that are not directly involved. For example, a defective vehicle or vehicle part could malfunction at the wrong time and contribute to a crash. Examples include tire blowouts, brake line failures, and computer dashboard malfunctions. When this occurs, the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the vehicle or vehicle part could be held responsible. Other third parties that may contribute to an accident include trucking companies that employ a driver, a party responsible for maintaining a commercial vehicle, or a government entity that is responsible for maintaining safe roadways.

Injured in an Auto Accident in Southern California? Contact an Experienced San Diego Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered injury from a car or truck accident in San Diego, El Cajon, or anywhere in Southern California, call Garmo and Garmo, LLP today at 619-441-2500 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. We will meet with you to thoroughly evaluate your case and inform you of your legal rights and options.