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What Is the Leading Cause of Vehicle Accidents?

what is the leading cause of vehicle accidents

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Traffic accidents happen every day and have become a common factor in driving. You probably pass by at least one car accident daily, either on your way to work or home. But why do so many car accidents happen, and what is the leading cause of vehicle accidents?

The Houston car accident attorneys at Reich & Binstock list the many causes of car accidents in their latest blog. Some causes of car accidents are no-brainers, like drunk driving, but others may surprise you. By understanding the behaviors that can cause car accidents, drivers can be more prepared to avoid them while on the road.

If you were involved in a car accident in Houston, you may be able to pursue legal action against the driver responsible. To discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys, call 713-622-7271 to schedule a free consultation.

NHTSA Car Accident Statistics

what is the most common cause of collisions

In 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the car accident data for the year 2020. They reported that over 38,800 people were killed in car accidents throughout the United States. The number of car accident fatalities in 2020 was the highest since 2007. The report also states that 45% of fatal accidents involved drivers engaging in reckless behaviors like speeding or being drunk.

In Texas, the car accident statistics are just as shocking. The Texas Department of Transportation reported that 4,480 people were killed in 4,110 fatal crashes in 2021. The number of fatalities related to motor vehicle accidents is a 14% increase from the year before. Houston alone accounted for 330 car accident deaths, which was the most out of the state’s five largest cities. To compare, Dallas had 234 accident fatalities, San Antonio had 188, Fort Worth had 131 deaths, and Austin had 117.

What Are Some of the Most Common Causes of Car Crashes?

Car accidents can happen in a number of ways and are often completely avoidable. When a driver doesn’t consider the safety of others on the road and acts negligently, they can cause a car accident.

The Houston car accident attorneys from Reich & Binstock list the most common car accident causes. When drivers are more familiar with how a car accident can happen, they can be more equipped to prevent it.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving encompasses many different actions that drivers perform that take their attention away from the road. Common distracted driving behaviors are texting, eating, changing radio stations, talking to passengers, and more. When a driver takes their attention away from the road ahead, they may not be able to react quickly enough to sudden changes in traffic or road hazards.

Driving Under the Influence

Drunk driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents. While drunk driving used to be the number one cause of car accidents, nationwide campaigns aimed at decreasing drunk driving and growing rideshare services have made drunk drivers think twice about getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Drugged driving is also dangerous and can cause car accidents. Even people who have a prescription from a doctor can risk the adverse effects of medication that can impair their judgment. When taking medication, it’s important to talk to your doctor about how the medication can affect you while driving. Most medications also include warnings against driving or operating machinery while taking them.

Reckless or Negligent Driving

Reckless driving behaviors include speeding, aggressive driving, and tailgating, which can all be considered causes of car accidents. Driving recklessly disregards the safety of others and passengers by performing actions that put everyone at risk. Many drivers can be reckless if they’re in a hurry because they’re running late, causing them to exceed the speed limit or make illegal lane changes. All drivers need to be on the lookout for reckless behavior to avoid being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Weather Conditions

Drivers may not always be able to avoid driving in poor weather conditions, but being safe while driving in the rain or fog can keep everyone safe. It’s important to drive slowly in the rain or fog and pull over if your visibility becomes impaired. While Texans don’t experience much snow, it’s important to drive carefully if you must be on the roadways. Since snow doesn’t happen much in Houston, this can be a leading factor in causing traffic accidents when the city does get a random snowstorm.

Always be cautious when driving, no matter what weather conditions you may be facing. Never try to continue driving in limited visibility and pull over until the storm or fog lets up.

Running Red Lights

Drivers often run red lights when they’re in a hurry or distracted. Unfortunately, this driver error can cause serious accidents since other drivers have the right of way with a green light.

Drowsy Driving

Many researchers agree that driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Tired drivers will have slower reaction times, impaired judgment, blurred vision, and can even fall asleep at the wheel. Drowsy or impaired driving can make it difficult for drivers to stay in their proper lane, and they can often drift into other lanes. No trip or destination is too important to risk driving while tired. If you start to notice signs of drowsiness, it’s important to pull over or find a hotel to stay overnight.


leading cause of car accidents in houston

Tailgating is another behavior that can cause motor vehicle crashes. There’s never a reason to follow a vehicle so closely that you risk rear-ending them. Drivers should always keep three cars distance behind the vehicle in front of them to avoid an accident if they suddenly come to a stop.

Unsafe Lane Changes

Changing lanes when it’s unsafe is another way drivers can get into car accidents. Drivers must look around them to make sure that it’s safe for them to move over into another lane. Driving over the speed limit and not using traffic signals can be dangerous for other drivers on the road. It’s also important to only change lanes when you have enough room to do so. If the car in front of you comes to a sudden stop, you can risk rear-ending them.

Driving at Night

Night driving is incredibly dangerous. In fact, research shows that 50% of fatal traffic accidents occur at night. While driving at night may not always be avoidable, drivers can take precautions to remain safe. One reason that night driving is so dangerous is because there are higher chances that people may be drunk, tired, or have impaired vision. Drivers should stay alert when traveling at night to avoid being involved in car accidents.

Vehicle Malfunctions

Not all car accidents are caused by driver errors. Sometimes, motor vehicles can malfunction, which can lead to car accidents. When a motor vehicle malfunctions, it can be a hazard to the driver, its passengers, and all other drivers involved. When a car stalls or breaks down on the interstate, other drivers often don’t have enough time to make corrections to avoid an accident. Performing routine maintenance on your vehicle is important to preventing car accidents caused by malfunctions.

Improper Turns

All drivers learn what is considered a proper turn and what is not. Drivers should use their blinkers, slow down, and follow traffic signals to perform a legal turn. If it’s dangerous to turn at an intersection, signs will usually be posted forbidding right turns or turns while the light is red. If you’re unsure if turning at an intersection is safe, don’t take your chances and wait until the light has turned green.

Driving the Wrong Way

Driving the wrong way happens more often than people think and can be extremely dangerous for everyone involved. Most wrong-way driving occurs on the interstate, where drivers are traveling at high rates of speed. A head-on collision of this magnitude can often lead to severe or fatal injuries. Drivers unfamiliar with the roadways, driving in adverse weather conditions, or driving while tired can drive the wrong way.


Even though it seems like everyone is speeding around you, that’s not a good enough reason to exceed the speed limit. Speed limits are created for a reason and are designed to keep drivers and passengers safe. Drivers traveling at 50 mph in a 35 mph zone may run through a stop sign or miss a school zone with children outside.

Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

Drivers experiencing road rage or driving aggressively are at increased risk of causing a car accident. Aggressive drivers are more likely to tailgate, speed, run red lights, disobey traffic signs, and more. Drivers who experience road rage may be triggered by things as minor as being cut off or missing a green light. Road rage and aggressive driving are extremely common, with the NHTSA reporting that over 80% of drivers admit to committing road rage behaviors. They also reported that 66% of car accident fatalities are caused by aggressive drivers.

What Is the Number One Most Common Cause of Car Accidents?

causes of car accidents

It’s no surprise that distracted driving is the number one cause of car accidents. As more vehicles come equipped with GPS systems, satellite radios, and all the bells and whistles, drivers can easily be distracted by their car features alone.

Car accidents caused by distracted drivers can involve texting while driving, putting on makeup, eating, checking social media, glancing at a billboard, and more. Even when a driver takes their eyes away from the road for a second, it is still considered distracted driving.

Distracted drivers can miss road hazards, traffic signs, sudden stops in traffic, and more. Many people may not realize they’re driving distracted when they still have their eyes on the road. However, even though drivers look at the road ahead if they’re juggling food or thinking about a presentation at work, their attention is not solely focused on driving.

Drivers should always be completely focused on driving. Changes on roadways can happen in a split second, and if a driver is distracted, they can’t make the proper corrections in time. Taking precautions like silencing your phone, eating before driving, and making a driving playlist can all help decrease the chances of a driver getting distracted.

What to Do If You Were in a Car Accident

what are common causes of car accidents in houston

If you’ve been involved in a car accident caused by negligence or reckless driving, you can file a lawsuit against the driver responsible. After an accident, it’s important to follow the steps below to strengthen your claims when filing a personal injury case.

  1. Move to safety: If possible, move your vehicle out of the road to prevent more accidents.
  2. Check for injuries: Check with everyone involved to see if they sustained any injuries from the accident.
  3. Call 911: Report the accident and wait for a law enforcement officer to arrive. While on the phone with 911, relay any injuries so they can send help.
  4. Exchange information: While waiting for the police, exchange information with the other people involved in the accident. It’s important to get the other driver’s name, phone number, license, and insurance information. Note the car’s make, model, and other features in case they flee the scene before police arrive. Also, get information from witnesses to the accident as it could be helpful when pursuing a personal injury claim.
  5. Take photos: Take as many photos of the accident as possible. Get pictures of both vehicles, damages, and injuries.
  6. Seek medical attention: Once you leave the accident scene, seek medical attention even if you don’t think you sustained any injuries. Some accident injuries can show up later, like concussions, and a doctor can catch the signs early on. Medical treatment after an accident can also help a personal injury claim since your attorney can reference your medical records when proving negligence.

Contact the Houston Car Accident Lawyers at Reich & Binstock Today

most common causes of vehicle accidents

As you can see, car accidents can happen in many ways, but being careful and following traffic laws is critical to keeping everyone safe. Unfortunately, not everyone on the road prioritizes other motorists’ safety and can perform negligent behaviors that put drivers and passengers at risk.

If you were injured in an accident, you can pursue legal action against the negligent driver. The attorneys at Reich & Binstock will work to recover damages for your injuries, like lost wages and medical expenses so that you can focus on healing. To schedule a free consultation with a Houston car accident attorney, call 713-622-7271 today.

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