What Causes Car Accidents?

25 million. That is the number of people who have perished in accidents involving vehicles since the day the first ever car fatality was recorded. It was in 1896 that Bridget Driscoll, a 45 year old English woman was fatally stuck by a streetcar going at 4 mph in Crystal Palace, London. 119 years later, 1.11 deaths occur at every 100 million vehicle miles traveled in United States alone. But why is it that going against common sense as well as general convention, road travel as well as cars have become increasingly unsafe. We dug a bit deeper into why road accidents seem to be more fatal than war zones, and narrowed down the list of suspects listed below.

5) Design Defects

We rely on our cars to take us safely from place to place every day. We get in our vehicles and take off without giving a second thought to our safety, taking for granted that so long as we buckle up, all the safety features built into our vehicles (and for which we pay dearly), will protect us from harm. But it is not always the case. Common auto defects such as tire defects, seat belt defects etc in vehicles can make vehicles more prone to roll overs, breakdown and sometimes even fatal mishaps.

Design Defects

4) Adverse Weather Conditions

Adverse weather accounts for nearly 10% of all fatal car accidents in the United States. Driving in rain, hailstorm and other adverse weather conditions requires greater attention on the road which is a big ask as the visibility decreases and the reaction time of drivers falls sharply too.

Inclement weather means you need more time to come to stop so when that weather gets bad, be sure to leave extra room between the car in front of you and slow down.

Adverse weather conditions

3) Tailgating

Tailgating is the practice of driving on a road too close to a frontward vehicle, at a distance which does not guarantee that stopping to avoid collision is possible. Many fatal car accidents have occurred when a motorist was driving dangerously close to another car at high speeds and thus they couldn’t react in time when the car in front of them applied brakes suddenly. Tailgating becomes even more dangerous when combined with adverse weather conditions.


2) Drunk Driving

In 2004, an estimated 16,654 people were killed in alcohol related crashes with an average of 1 death almost every half an hour. Drunk drivers are responsible for 30% of all fatal crashes in United States alone. Alcohol dulls your senses and inhibits your central nervous system which is directly responsible for motor skills. Driving drunk poses a risk not only to the offender but also to everyone on the road.

Drunk driving

1) Distracted Driving

Around 50% of all motor vehicle crashes in USA have driver distraction as their root cause. According to one study driving and talking on the cell phone at the same time quadruples the risk of crashing. Distraction can be of three different types – visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distraction involves taking one’s eyes off the road, while manual distraction involves taking one’s hands off the wheel. Cognitive distraction occurs when an individual’s focus ‘wanders’.

Distracted driving

Here is an infographic we did that summarises the above content.


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