10 Leading Causes of Automobile Accidents


According to the World Health Organization, close to 1.2 million people worldwide die every year due to automobile crashes. Among people under the age of 29, car crashes are the number one killer. Yet according to the National Center for Health Statistics, fatal car crashes are preventable. That's because the top contributing factors in most automobile accidents are human behavior.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

  • When most people think of DUI, they think of driving drunk. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD ), alcohol plays a factor in over 30 percent of all traffic fatalities. However, increasingly drugs are becoming a factor in traffic accidents as well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drugs are a factor in up to 22 percent of traffic accidents.


  • Injuries in an automobile accident are directly proportional to the rate of speed at which the automobile causing the collision is traveling. Increased speed also cuts into the driver's reaction time.

Road Rage

  • Road rage is another name for aggressive driving and the feelings that prompt aggressive driving. Some examples of aggressive driving include cutting other drivers off while changing lanes, tailgating or speeding.

Distracted Driving

  • Drivers who engage in distracting behavior can't react as quickly to road conditions or other drivers. Behavior such as changing a CD or searching through a purse, briefcase or bag are also a significant contributing factor to accidents.

Driving Tired

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tired drivers account for about 100,000 accidents yearly in the United States. This risk is greatest from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Poor Car Maintenance

  • Regular car maintenance involves keeping tires and brakes and suspension in good working order. New tires and brakes affect the stopping distances of a vehicle and can make the difference in whether a vehicle is involved in a collision or not.

Cell Phone Use/Texting

Eating/Reading/Applying Makeup

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracting behavior such as eating, reading or applying makeup is a significant factor in traffic accidents. In a survey of 1,000 drivers conducted by Exxon, more than 70 percent ate food while driving and more than 80 percent drank beverages.


  • While rubbernecking is a larger problem in urban areas, stopping or slowing down to stare at an accident is a problem that can occur anywhere. This can be avoided by moving with the flow of traffic and maintaining speed.


  • Recklessness could be defined as a willful disregard for traffic laws. This sense of entitlement while driving extends to running red lights and passing vehicles while on the shoulder.

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  • Photo Credit Photo released to public domain by Dori.
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