| Driving
Woman multi-tasking, talking on phone and drinking coffee, while driving. Common car accident causes and how to prevent them.

Speeding, yawning and eating. We all do these things when we drive, right? It turns out they’re all among the five most common causes of car accidents in the U.S.

Learn more about five top causes of wrecks and ways to help lower the likelihood of each.

What causes car accidents?

Distracted Driving

You’re chowing down on a fast-food hamburger. You’re adjusting the radio. You’re chatting with your friends riding in the car. You’re talking or texting on your cell phone.

All of those behaviors are distracted driving, and they’re all dangerous when you’re behind the wheel. Distracted driving is any activity that causes you to take your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel, or your mind off the task at hand.

In 2016, more than 9% of traffic deaths were attributed to distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

How to help prevent distracted-driving crashes

The solution is simple. Pay attention to the road when you’re driving, not your food or your friends. Cell phone use is the No. 1 form of distracted driving. To curb device-related wrecks, never talk or text while driving. As a matter of fact, talking and texting while driving is illegal in most states.


Going over the speed limit accounts for a significant number of car accidents each year. According to the NHTSA, 26% of deadly crashes in the U.S. in 2017 were linked to speeding.

How to help prevent speeding-related crashes

If you’re running late for an appointment or just feel like pushing the pedal to the metal, resist the urge to exceed the speed limit. Speeding can result in a costly traffic ticket or, worse yet, injury or death. Haircuts and meetings can wait. Your life is more important!

Impaired Driving

By now, you’ve spotted lots of ads or billboards warning of the dangers of drunk driving and other types of impaired driving (such as getting behind the wheel when you’re high on drugs).

There’s a reason why you’ve seen those ads and billboards all over the place. In 2016, drunk driving was responsible for 28% of all traffic deaths in the U.S., the NHTSA says. Meanwhile, the same agency reported that drugs other than alcohol were connected to 16%  of U.S. wrecks in 2015.

How to help prevent impaired-driving crashes

Don’t get behind the wheel when you’re drunk or high, as that endangers you and everyone else on the road. If you know you’re going to be under the influence, ask a sober friend or relative to be your designated driver. If you’re already drunk or high and don’t have a designated driver, call a taxi or catch a ride with Uber or Lyft. The easiest way to avoid impaired driving is to steer clear of alcohol and drugs before you get behind the wheel.

Drowsy Driving

The CDC estimates drowsy driving was responsible for 91,000 car accidents in 2017. Keep in mind, these accidents don’t only involve drivers who fell asleep at the wheel, but also include those whose driving abilities were impaired by drowsiness.

How to help prevent drowsy-driving crashes

The easy answer to this is to get the proper amount of sleep—generally seven to nine hours a day for adults—before hitting the road. Consider taking a taxi, bus, train, or other mode of transportation if you’re drowsy. You also might put off your trip until you’ve gotten enough sleep.

If tiredness strikes when you’re already behind the wheel and you feel like you might fall asleep, pull over and don’t resume driving until you’re refreshed. If you’re driving with a buddy, ask them to talk to you to help you stay awake, or take turns driving between gas stops and bathroom breaks.

Bad Weather

Rain, snow, ice, and fog are just a few of the weather conditions that can lead to a car accident. The Federal Highway Administration says about one-fourth of car crashes are related to weather.

How to help prevent weather-related crashes

The best tip for staying safe on the road when the weather is bad is to slow down. Speeding on slick streets or in the fog makes matters worse. Also, stay alert, practice good driving habits, and avoid distractions like talking or texting on your cell phone. If at all possible, stay off the roads when it’s rainy, snowy, icy, or foggy. Chances are, your trip isn’t important enough to risk your life.

You can help prevent common causes of car accidents, but accidents still happen. Share this article with your friends and family, and stay prepared with affordable car insurance that helps protect your car and your peace of mind.