What is the Leading Cause of Fatal Car Accidents?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Federal Highway Administration, there were nearly 40,000 fatal car wrecks in the United States in 2021. Every fatal crash has variables that distinguish it from other crashes:

  • The state and city in which the accident happens
  • The time of day at which the crash occurs
  • The types of vehicles involved in the wreck
  • Whether the crash happens on a side road, arterial road, or highway

One thing that does not change much from crash to crash is the cause. Despite news stories, public service announcements, and other efforts to curb fatality accidents, the same causes are found in nearly all crashes that result in someone’s death.

What is the leading cause of fatal car accidents, and how can you protect yourself and your loved ones from danger on the roads?

Speed Is the Number One Killer on America’s Roads

You might think that drunk drivers or drivers who text while behind the wheel are the greatest danger to your life on the roadways. But neither of these reckless behaviors is the leading cause of fatal car accidents. 

Instead, statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that speeding is the country’s leading cause of fatal traffic crashes. Speeding alone accounts for one-third of all fatal crashes on America’s roadways. Often, speeding goes hand in hand with aggressive or reckless driving, further increasing the risk of a fatality crash.

Other Common Causes of Fatal Crashes

After speeding, what is the leading cause of fatal car accidents? Other dangerous driving behaviors include:

Impaired Driving

Drunk driving is dangerous. So is driving with any intoxicating or impairing substance in your system, including prescription drugs that make you drowsy. Any drug or alcoholic beverage can impair your judgment and make a fatal accident more likely.

Distracted Driving

When you are looking at your phone, your eyes and hands cannot control where your car is going. Being distracted can also make you lose track of how fast your car is going. You can easily hit another motorist at full speed in this state, which is why distracted driving is a leading cause of fatal car accidents.

Driving While Drowsy

Americans are sleep-deprived, but getting behind the wheel in this state is dangerous. Even if you do not fall asleep behind the wheel, drowsiness slows your reaction time. As a result, you may be too slow to respond to dangers on the road.

Road Rage

Road rage, or aggressive driving, is often connected with speeding, but it does not always have to be. Drivers who are in a fit of road rage may follow their target too closely, change lanes without enough clearance, or make aggressive maneuvers that confuse and endanger other drivers. This can lead to tragic wrecks that claim lives.

Not Wearing a Seat Belt

Seat belts help restrain you in the event of a crash and have been shown to save lives. Not wearing a seat belt can make even low-speed collisions more dangerous. You should wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a car, no matter how far or fast you are traveling.

Improperly Handled Large Trucks

Semitrucks, buses, and heavy trucks can inflict significant damage to passenger cars in a wreck. Colliding with one of these monstrous vehicles carries with it a correspondingly higher risk of death than crashing into a car of similar size.

Road and Weather Conditions

Inclement weather affects the road surface and can lead to slippery or wet conditions that make it hard to control your car. This can be treacherous, especially if you are driving on a winding or narrow road. 

If the weather is poor, consider postponing your trip. Otherwise, keep your car and its equipment in good working order and drive cautiously to prevent a weather-related fatal wreck.

Why the Cause of Crashes Matters

What is the leading cause of fatal car accidents, and what does it tell you and others about preventing these tragedies? 

Knowing that speed, aggressive driving, and intoxicated driving contribute to a number of fatal crashes each year serves as a reminder that most car collisions are preventable. 

When drivers are in a hurry or fail to consider the consequences of their actions, serious and fatal accidents result. Preventing these incidents from happening, then, begins with exercising greater caution and care on the roads.

Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including cartruck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!