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Car accidents can happen for many reasons, but research shows that driver error or carelessness is by far the most common cause. If you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you have a right to seek compensation for your medical bills and other expenses related to your injuries. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analyzed data from a survey on factors leading up to car crashes and found that the critical reason most crashes occurred was some behavior or action on the part of one of the drivers. Some examples include being distracted, speeding, or falling asleep behind the wheel. Driver-related factors contributed to a staggering 94 percent of all collisions over the two-and-a-half-year span the administration studied.

Identifying and understanding common causes of car accidents can be helpful if you were hurt in a crash. Determining the factors that contributed to an accident can increase your chances of holding at-fault parties liable and getting the maximum compensation from them. Our South Carolina auto accident lawyers discusses some of the most common causes of auto collisions. Contact The Melonakos Law Firm today to speak with an experienced attorney about your case.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately nine people are killed every day in the United States in distracted driving crashes. More than 3,000 people died and 424,000 more were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in one recent year. About one in every five people who died in distracted driving accidents that year was a pedestrian, cyclist, or bystander. Fatal distracted driving crashes are particularly prevalent among teenage drivers because they are more likely to use their phones while driving.

Impaired Driving

Another common cause of car accidents is impaired driving. The CDC estimates that about 29 people die every day in the U.S. in crashes involving a drunk driver, or roughly one fatality every 50 minutes. Approximately 10,500 people died in drunk driving accidents in one recent year, accounting for 28 percent of all traffic-related deaths nationwide.

Driving under the influence is dangerous because alcohol and drugs can have devastating effects on brain function. Even a relatively small amount of alcohol can significantly impair depth perception, reaction time, and safe judgment, all of which are necessary to prevent and avoid traffic accidents.


Speeding is a major contributing factor in traffic accidents and fatalities throughout the U.S. According to the National Safety Council, speeding caused more than 10,000 fatal crashes in one recent year, resulting in 11,258 deaths nationwide. 

Speeding increases the risk and severity of accidents in three key ways: First, it decreases the time a driver has to react in a dangerous scenario. Second, it increases the distance required for a vehicle to come to a complete stop. Finally, it decreases the effectiveness of road safety infrastructure, such as guardrails.

Driver Fatigue

Drowsy driving is a significant and likely underreported problem in the U.S., as there is no reliable method for determining whether a driver was drowsy when a crash occurred. Still, the NHTSA estimates that driver fatigue contributed to more than 90,000 crashes in one recent year, resulting in 50,000 injuries and about 800 fatalities. 

At a certain point, the cognitive effects of drowsiness can be just as impairing as the effects of alcohol intoxication. According to the CDC, the impact of staying awake for 24 hours is equivalent to the effects of having a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Running Red Lights

Running red lights is one of the most common traffic violations. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), running red lights is often deadly. More than 900 people died and an estimated 115,741 more were injured in crashes that involved running a red light in one recent year. 

In a recent survey, over 85 percent of drivers agreed that driving through a light that has just turned red is “very” or “extremely” dangerous. Yet, 26 percent admitted to doing so at least once in the past month. Tragically, pedestrians, cyclists, and occupants of other vehicles are the most common victims of these accidents.

Disobeying Traffic Laws

Very few studies have examined the correlation between disobeying traffic laws and the likelihood of being involved in a traffic accident. However, one international examination of data on the relationship between traffic offenses and crashes suggests that the correlation may be stronger among crashes involving young drivers.

Certain traffic violations contribute to or worsen the effects of accidents. Speeding, following too closely, failing to yield, and other common traffic violations are often cited as causal factors in car wrecks. 

Following Too Closely

Often, people think of hostile, aggressive tailgaters when they picture someone following too closely. But in reality, many drivers follow too closely behind others simply because they are distracted, inexperienced, or simply using poor judgment.

In optimal conditions, a driver traveling at just 40 miles per hour needs at least 50 yards to come to a complete stop, according to the NHTSA. Stopping distance can increase dramatically in poor driving conditions or at high speeds. Drivers who fail to consider these factors often follow too closely and are more likely to crash.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving occurs when a driver commits a combination of dangerous traffic violations, usually intended to intimidate others. Aggressive driving behaviors like speeding and refusing to yield are common contributing factors in crashes.

One recent survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly 80 percent of drivers admitted to expressing “significant anger, aggression, or road rage” at least once while driving in the past 30 days. The survey’s most commonly reported aggressive driving behaviors included driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit on the freeway and following too closely behind other vehicles to prevent others from merging.

Contact our Expert North Carolina Car Accident Attorney for Help with Your Claim

If you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, the dedicated legal team at The Melonakos Law Firm can investigate the wreck, determine who may be liable for your injuries, and pursue fair compensation on your behalf. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help in a free case review with a North Carolina car accident lawyer.

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