Top 7 Causes of Car Accidents

Every year thousands of people are injured and killed in car accidents in the United States. According to the Institute of Insurance Safety a total of 37,133 people were killed in a car accident in 2017.

California, Texas and Florida were among the leader in total motor vehicle related deaths.

In the interactive map below you can see the fatal deaths by each state.

Total Car Accident Deaths By State in 2017

Over the past decade an average of 35,000 people have died from car accidents EVERY YEAR!

Male vs Female

In majority of car accidents, males have been shown to have the highest risk of being killed.

From 1975-2015 the number of males killed in a car accident was more twice the number of females killed in a car accident.

In 2015, over 71% of car accident deaths were males. This is a similar trend over the past decade where over 350,000 people were killed in a car accident.

So what’s the cause of all of these car accidents?

In this article we’ll look at statistics behind the 7 main reasons for these crashes and fatalities.

1. Speeding

Speeding is one of the most common causes for car accidents.

From 2006-2015 a total of 108,554 car accidents were due to speeding. This accounted for nearly 30% of all car accidents during that time.

Of the nearly 10,000 speed related deaths that occurred in 2015, nearly half (48%) happened on roads where the speed limits higher than 55 mph.

2. Drunk Driving

Drinking alcohol can severely impair our judgment and cognitive abilities to drive.

According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention:

  • Everday 28 people die due to drunk driving in the United States.
  • This is equivalent to 1 death every 53 minutes.

Over the past decade, drunk driving has resulted in nearly 113,000 deaths.

During that period drunk driving has contributed to nearly 30% of car accident fatalities.

3. Distractions

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration classifies distraction as any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from focusing on driving to another task. This can include tasks like:

  1. Talking on cell phones
  2. Texting
  3. Eating
  4. Talking to passengers
  5. Adjusting radio/climate controls

From 2010-2014, driver’s who were distracted while driving caused nearly 4.5 million car crashes.

The data showed that distracted drivers were responsible for nearly 16% of all car accidents.

4. Cell Phone

One of the biggest sources of distractions while driving is cell phones. The number of cell phone texting and driving car accidents has been on the rise the past few years.

These include minor rear end accidents in the parking lots to disasterous crashes on the highway.

From 2010-2014, the number of car accidents due to cell phones increased by almost 38%!

Most people assume teenagers are the primary age group that uses cell phones while driving. However, the statistics show every age group has been victim of this deadly habit.

5. Weather

Weather related accidents are defined as accidents that occur while driving under adverse conditions such as rain, snow, fog etc.

Most people intuitively understand that driving during bad weather is dangerous. However, the statistics reveal just exactly how dangerous this can be.

From 2005-2014 there were 1,258,978 weather related car accidents. This accounted for 22% of all car accidents over the 10 year span.

During that period 445,303 people were injured and 5,897 people were killed.

Here is the distribution of the various weather conditions that contributed to car accidents.

To give you some perspective, published an article that showed weather related car accidents have been more deadly in the past decade than tornadoes and hurricanes…combined!

6. Red Light Accidents

We’ve all tried to beat a red light at one point or another. However, the next time you drive, you may want to rethink if it’s worth it.

From 2010-2014 an average of 705 people died every year from running red lights.

The National Coalition for Safer Roads did a study in 2013 looking at red light violations and found some interesting patterns:

Time of Day:

Driver’s most frequently ran red lights in the afternoon (30%).

Day of the Week:

Fridays had highest number of violations: 570,151 red light violations

Sunday had lowest number of violations: 439,323 red light violations

Holiday Violations

Holidays tend to produce a lot of red light violations since most people are traveling to see family members or go on vacation.

The study found that in 2013:

  • Memorial Day weekend had the most red light violations: 39,021
  • Halloween had lowest red light violations: 28,902
7.Driver Fatigue

Driving while being tired may seem like an innocent activity but it is proven to be quite deadly.

From 2005-2009, drowsy driving accounted for approximately 1.4% of all car accidents.

But don’t let the small percentage number fool you. That 1.4% represents 5,895,000 car accidents during those 5 years.

This means an average of 83,000 car accidents occurred every year due to drowsy driving.

In 2014, 846 people were killed in drowsy driver related car accidents. This accounted for 2.6% of all car accident fatalities in 2014.

Research has shown these figures to be consistent throughout the years.

From 2005-2009 an average of 1,004 people died every year (2.5% of all fatalities) from drowsy driver related car accidents.


Over the past decade, car accidents have injured and killed thousands of people every year.

After seeing the devastating numbers, you truly do understand the magnitude of the problem.

Based on the statistics, the way to avoid getting in a auto accidents seem quite simple:

  • Avoid speeding.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Avoid being distracted
  • Don’t use your cell phone
  • Be extra cautious during bad weather.
  • Don’t try to beat the red light.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

Drive and be safe.


Car Accident Statistics:
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Fatality Facts

Male vs Female Accidents:
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Fatality Facts (Gender)

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Fatality Facts (Speeding)

Drunk Driving

Center for Disease Control and Prevention- Impaired Driving: Get the FactsNHTSA- Alcohol Impaired Driving (2014 Data)

Distracted Driving:
National Highway Safety Traffic Administration – Distracted Driving 2014

Weather Related Accidents:
U.S Department of Transportation – How Do Weather Events Impact Roads?

Red Light Accidents:

U.S Department of Transportation:National Coalition for Safer Roads

Driver Fatigue:

NHTSA – Drowsy DrivingCDC-Drowsy Driving

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