Mar 18, 2024

Common Causes of Car Accidents

sleeping at the wheel causes car accidents

Car accidents are an unfortunate fact of life. Many of us have experienced the adrenaline rush of fear that occurs when we are involved in a car accident. Knowing the most common causes of car accidents can help to prevent future occurrences.

How Common Are Car Accidents?

Traffic accidents happen hundreds of thousands of times per year across the country. They are so widespread and common that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s public health agency, treats motor vehicle safety as one of its primary concerns. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States and a major source of patients in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. ( 1)

According to one estimate, between 5 and 6 million car accidents occur in the US each year. In those accidents, it’s estimated that approximately 3 million people suffer injuries as a result of the crash. In 2019 alone, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) reported over 36,000 fatal car accidents.

Those who don’t want to add to those statistics with their own accidents should learn what the common causes of car accidents are as well as how to avoid those causes themselves. Here are some of the most common things that cause an accident on the roadways.

Reckless Driving

Aggressive drivers should take care that they don’t become reckless drivers. There is a fine line between safe aggressiveness and unsafe recklessness. Tailgating, changing lanes without signaling, weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed, and traveling at an extremely high rate of speed are examples of reckless behavior while driving.

If you’ve been involved in an accident involving a reckless driver the driver who exhibited reckless behavior could be deemed liable for the accident. For legal explanations of recklessness and how it affects accident claims, consult a car accident lawyer St Petersburg FL .

Distracted Driving

Eating, adjusting the radio, changing GPS settings, or using a cellphone while driving are all examples of distracted driving. There are other forms of distraction such as becoming engrossed in a conversation with passengers to the point you are no longer paying attention to the road.

Daydreaming, bright sunlight, and reaching for objects in the car are also forms of distractions that can cause an accident. It’s easy, yet dangerous, to become distracted while you are driving. Driving while distracted can lead you to need a St Petersburg car accident lawyer.

Drowsiness or Fatigue

If you are overly tired you will have a difficult time focusing on the road ahead of you. It is a dangerous prospect to dry in a state of drowsiness or fatigue. Your senses naturally become dull as you become sleepy. Your body responds by relaxing and becoming ready for sleep.

The danger to this kind of driving is that your reaction times are slowed. You could even fall asleep behind the wheel causing an accident. A St Petersburg car accident lawyer can help you with appropriate actions following an accident that involved yourself or another driver being too drowsy to function properly.


When someone is negligent it means they didn’t act in a way that would protect other people. They were careless. This can be active carelessness or it can be avoiding an action such as helping someone who became a victim of a previous action.

Courts look to a number of factors in determining whether a driver was negligent. Some of these factors include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Disobeying traffic signs or signals
  • Failing to signal while turning
  • Driving above or below the posted speed limit
  • Disregarding weather or traffic conditions
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol( 2)

If a driver is found negligent, they are likely to also be at fault for the accident. If the negligent driver is you, contacting a car accident lawyer St Petersburg FL can help you meet the responsibilities that are yours following the accident.


Car accidents are common occurrences. There are over 5 million accidents in the US per year. Some of those accidents could have been avoided by choosing to behave more responsibly when getting behind the wheel of a car. Recklessness, distracted driving, drowsiness, fatigue, and even negligence are all learned behaviors.

To avoid these common causes of car accidents you must first recognize them as extensions of yourself. We’ve all been in unexpected situations that could make us reckless behind the wheel. Unfortunately, recognizing the behavior in ourselves doesn’t mean we can completely avoid an accident. When an accident happens, a St Petersburg car accident lawyer can help navigate the claims process.

Morgan & Morgan FAQs:

What kinds of things can lead to distracted driving?

Anything that takes your focus from the road is distracted driving. This can be as simple as carrying on a conversation with someone in the car with you. Touching your phone for any reason while driving is a big no-no.

I’ve been involved in an accident with a reckless driver. What should I do next?

First, document everything, then call a car accident lawyer in St Petersburg. The lawyer will explain the law to you, help you know what claims should be filed and when the deadline for filing is.

I’m exhausted, but it’s time to travel home. Are there consequences to driving while sleepy?

Driving sleepy is a dangerous idea. You could fall asleep at the wheel and cause an accident with injuries, or worse, fatalities. It’s best to rest where you are rather than take the risk.