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The Most Common Causes of Automobile Accidents

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America’s roads are getting more dangerous and in 2015, 35,092 people were killed in automobile accidents. This was a 7% increase from 2014. The high number of fatalities made 2015 the deadliest year in the past 10 years and the fastest increase in more than 50 years.

In just the first half of 2015, nearly 2.3 million drivers, passengers, and pedestrians sustained serious injuries requiring medical treatment. Many of the causes of these accidents are 100% preventable and are the result of dangerous driver behaviors.


In 2015, 9,557 lives were lost in speed-related crashes. Excessive speed was a contributing factor in 28% of fatal car accidents. 36% of people who died between the ages of 16 and 20 were speeding at the time of the crash.

Drinking & Narcotics

Drinking and driving claimed 10,265 lives in 2015. Alcohol-impaired crashes account for 29% of all fatal accidents. However, only 41% of drivers who had been drinking had BAC limits above 0.08% which is the legal limit across the country. It is estimated that there are more than 121 million episodes of drunk driving in the United States each year.

Moreover, as more states have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, so too have the number of marijuana-related crashes. It is estimated that drivers who have consumed marijuana are 25% more likely to be involved in a crash causing serious injuries or fatalities. Prior to legalization, only 8.3% of drivers involved in fatal crashes had THC in their bloodstream; following legalization, that number has risen to 17%.

(Article continues below Infographic)

Common causes of automobile accidents infographic


Running Red Lights & Stop Signs

Red light runners claimed 900 lives in 2015 and injured a further 2,000 motorists and pedestrians. In fact, nearly half of people who are injured or killed by people running red lights are pedestrians.

Even more, motorists run stop signs and it is estimated that it is a factor in up 700,000 accidents. It is a factor in 40% of all crashes that stems from common accident-causing behaviors including speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.


Fatigue was a factor in 21% of fatal car accidents, and at least 13% of crashes resulting in severe injury. It’s a growing problem and a 2015 survey by AAA discovered that 37% of drivers admitted falling asleep at the wheel at least once in the past, and 28% of drivers admitted falling asleep within the previous 30 days.

Individuals who are fatigued and have been awake for more than 17 hours have a reaction time that is similar to individuals with a BAC content of 0.05%.

Distracted Driving

In 2015, 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving accidents. This was an increase of 8.8% over the previous year. Distracted driving accidents are a leading cause of serious injuries and in 2014, 431,000 drivers, passengers, and pedestrians were seriously injured by distracted drivers. Distracted driving is estimated to be a factor in at least 18% of all injury-causing accidents.

The most common causes of distracted driving include:

  • 62% are caused by “daydreaming” and not paying attention to the road
  • 12% are caused by cell phones
  • 7% are caused by outside events including “rubbernecking” of other accidents
  • 5% are caused by passengers and conversation
  • Fiddling with the radio, adjusting climate control, or reaching for objects each cause 2% of accidents
  • Smoking, moving objects within the vehicle, and adjusting controls are each responsible for 1% of distraction-related accidents

While many states including Illinois have banned cell phone usage while driving, the statistics show that such laws will have limited effect in preventing fatal accidents caused by distracted driving.

Aggressive Driving

Road rage continues to claim lives even as states step up enforcement of aggressive driving behaviors. AAA estimates that roughly 50% of fatality accidents involve aggressive driving behaviors. These behaviors include failing to yield, speeding, erratic lane changes, driving too fast for conditions, and deliberately failing to obey posted traffic signs. In addition to the criminal penalties aggressive drivers face, Chicago auto accident lawyer can help injured parties or surviving family members pursue damages for the pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of companionship, and loss of quality of life an aggressive driver may cause.

Street Design & Signage

Poor street design and lack of signage is particularly deadly for pedestrians and cyclists. In 2014, 4,884 pedestrians were killed in automobile crashes and 65,000 were injured. A further 726 cyclists were killed and 48,000 were injured. Of these, 7% are between the ages of 5 and 15 years old with most accidents occurring in urban areas. In fact, Illinois is the 5th deadliest state in America for cyclists of all ages.

A study conducted by the Association of Landscape Architects showed that the construction of sidewalks, barriers, and bike lanes coupled with the placement of improved lighting could prevent the majority of these accidents.

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As the founder of the firm, Neal has devoted his life to working for the worker. His achievements are numerous and beyond reproach. He is most proud of his work in helping clients obtain valuable benefits, such as a wheelchair ramp to his home or lifetime medical care.

As the founder of the firm, Neal has devoted his life to working for the worker. His achievements are numerous and beyond reproach. He is most proud of his work in helping clients obtain valuable benefits, such as a wheelchair ramp to his home or lifetime medical care.

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