The 3 Common Causes of Car Accidents

In the US, car accidents are still the leading cause of death for anyone under the age of 55. You are more likely to die while driving to work than from cancer, homicide, or any other cause of death. Even when crashes aren’t fatal, they leave devastating effects on everyone involved. This includes costly auto body shop repairs, expensive medical bills, and time spent recovering emotionally and physically. A car accident that happened within seconds can be the source of a lifetime of pain. Although not every crash can be avoided, there are ways to prevent some of the most common causes of car accidents.

#1 Avoid Distractions

Distracted driving in one of the most common causes of car accidents. Whether it’s texting, talking on the phone, eating food, or arguing with someone in the back seat, anything that takes your focus off of the road can cause an accident. According to, at least a ¼ of all accidents are caused by distracted driving. It is the most common cause of car accidents involving teens with 58% of all these crashes involving distracted driving.

There are three types of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. Examples of visual distractions include looking down at your phone or putting an address in the GPS. Examples of manual include reaching for a cell phone or a cheeseburger. Cognitive distractions include allowing your thoughts to wander to something other than driving.

To avoid this common cause of a car accident, eliminate distractions. Although this sounds simple, old habits tend to die hard. If you have your phone close by, you’ll be tempted to answer it even if you know you shouldn’t. So you might have to be creative and put it in the glove box before driving. Similarly you might make a ‘no food in the car’ rule if you tend to get distracted while eating.

auto stiegler team photo
Man driving car while eating French fries and soft drink with potential for car accident

#2 Don’t Tailgate

Another common cause of car accidents is tailgating. Tailgating is driving behind another vehicle at a distance that makes it difficult to brake without causing a crash. In bumper to bumper traffic, these kinds of wrecks are very common. Auto body shops repair countless vehicles each year that were involved in crashes where one or more of the cars was following someone else too closely.  Pile up collisions are usually caused by tailgating.

The key to avoiding this common cause of car accidents is to keep at least two car lengths behind the person in front of you. This will allow for quick breaking. But a common question that comes up is this: What do I do if someone is tailgating me? There are a couple of options. One, you could pull over or two the right and let the vehicle pass. Or you could remain a constant speed and tap your breaks lightly before slowing down. Just make sure that you don’t let your emotions get the best of you and become angry.

#3 Improper Turns

The final common cause of car accidents that you can easily avoid is ‘improper turn wrecks’. Stop lights, turn lanes, and turn signals were all created to stop these kinds of crashes from occurring, but even the best technology cannot trump human error.

According to a top auto injury attorney, examples of improper turns include:

  • Turning at a stop sign/red light without coming to a complete stop or yielding.
  • Making a left at a red light where it isn’t allowed.
  • Turning without signaling AKA “Improper Turn Signal Use.”
  • Turning without having the right-of-way.

To avoid this type of crash, make sure you know the rules of the road when it comes to turns and follow them carefully. 

If somehow you manage to get into a car accident even after following these tips, call us at 480-418-4901.