Most common causes of car accidents

Insurance Revolution

Being involved in a car crash can be through no fault of your own, the fault of another driver, or just an unlucky accident. Of course it is impossible to eliminate all the risks of being involved in a car accident, but you can decrease the risk. You can do this by being aware of some of the most common causes of road accidents, which is what we will show you below. 

Being distracted 

There are many ways you could be distracted whilst driving, and you should avoid all of them. Many drivers would have an issue with having their phone nearby. You should really put your phone in driving mode, if it is still a distraction, put it in your glove box. If you are caught using your phone, you could be hit with a fine and points on your licence, more importantly you can cause harm to yourself and others. 

If you are doing something else at the same time as driving, it means your full attention is not on the road. You could also be distracted by other things, such as eating or trying to sort out the music you are listening to. There are no specific rules about eating and driving, but you are still in danger of causing an accident. Plus, you can still be prosecuted if you are deemed to not be in control of your car, and eating while driving can cause this. 


This is an obvious one. If you are travelling above the speed limit then you increase your chances of being involved in an accident greatly. 

Speeding is a factor in a huge amount of accidents. The percentage of traffic deaths being related to speeding has been steadily decreasing over the years but it is still a major problem. The clear and obvious advice is to stick to the speed limit. 


Being reckless causes crashes

As well as keeping control of your speed, you also need to keep control over the way you drive in general. For example, you should always indicate to let your fellow drivers know where you are going, you shouldn’t change lanes too erratically, or brake suddenly. Driving without care and attention can lead to mistakes, either from yourself, or you could cause confusion to other drivers. It is always best to be considerate of other drivers around you to keep the roads as safe as possible. 


Driving under the influence

People driving under the influence is one of the most common reasons for a crash. You should be wary of the fact that even some prescription drugs can cause you issues when driving, and you can even be convicted of drug driving under the influence of certain prescription drugs. You should double check with your doctor if you are ok to drive with your medication. 

See our drink driving and drug driving statistics blog for more details.

Be aware of other road users

You are probably aware of this, but you are not the only person using the road. Always look out for other vehicles, including motorbikes and bicycles. You should also make sure that you are using your mirrors correctly. A huge number of crashes have occured from drivers failing to look properly. Even if you are parked and about to exit the vehicle you should always look around you first, as you never know, there could be a pedestrian or a cyclist you could end up hitting with your car door. 


Feeling sleepy

Another common reason for car crashes is people struggling to stay awake at the wheel, causing them to be much less alert. Or even worse, completely falling asleep at the wheel. People crashing due to being completely asleep is not very common, but being tired and less alert is a very common reason for being involved in an accident. If it is becoming difficult to keep your eyes open, you shouldn’t be driving. It isn’t just the time of day that can make you sleepy, it can also just be that you are exhausted, or you have been driving for too long. If you find yourself winding the windows down, or turning your music up to keep you awake, this is a sign that you need to find a safe place to stop, plus these are not effective ways of keeping you awake. You can stop and try and get in a quick power nap for 20 minutes, or drink 2 cups of coffee, or an equivalent in the form of an energy drink. 

Other reasons for crashes

There are of course many other reasons you could be involved in an accident, some you will have less control over than others, but you can always minimise the risk by being an alert and careful driver. Below are some other causes of accidents;

Rain or ice
The ground can become slippy and cause vehicles to swerve or skid. 

Not following road signs
Not obeying road signs such as a stop sign or a red light can be extremely dangerous. 

Inexperienced drivers
Teenage drivers or those who are new to driving are the most likely to make mistakes on the road. 

Night time driving
Accidents can happen at any point of the day, but the chances increase during the dark hours. 

Faulty car
You should always make sure your car is maintained, but motor vehicles have hundreds of parts and any one of them becoming faulty could result in an accident. 

Road rage
Becoming overly angry with other road users can cause you to lose concentration, or even make silly decisions. 

Hitting a pothole can cause damage to your car, or even make you lose control over it. 

Animals crossing
An animal can dart across the road without any notice, not giving you much time to react. 





To gain a deeper insight into the true extent of car accidents across the UK, we analysed the government’s transport department’s data that highlights all road and serious accidents.

Breaking down the latest data, we found that the top three contributory factors of pedestrians or vehicles in reported accidents in 2019 were:

  1. Driver/Rider failed to look properly - 30,954 instances

  2. Driver/Rider failed to judge other person’s path or speed - 16,750 instances

  3. Driver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry - 13,161 instances

In fact, over the last 5 years recorded (2015-2019), failing to look properly takes up around 42% on average, of contributing factors. 

We also found the number of how many fatal and serious accidents were caused by drivers being either distracted or impaired in 2019.

The total number was 12,197, however 373 fatal accidents were caused by drivers, and 17 of those were caused by drivers using a mobile phone. 

Looking at the serious accidents that took place, 3,646 of those were due to drivers being distracted - while 130 of those were due to the driver using a mobile phone.

Of course, distractions can be hard to avoid, but a lack of experience can make it even more difficult.

Our analysis showed that the total number of accidents was 18,180.

Looking deeper though, inexperience and bad behaviour behind the wheel actually resulted in 390 fatal incidents in 2019 - 27% of total accidents.

The number of serious accidents were even higher, totalling at 4,674. Looking deeper we found that 264 fatal accidents were caused by drivers driving carelessly/recklessly!

Speeding can have disastrous results, leading councils to implement plenty of measures to try and put a stop to it. 

But unfortunately, our analysis of the data found that 4,663 accidents were found to be the result of exceeding the speed limit. This was alongside 7,158 reported casualties being the result of the same reason.

Looking deeper, we found that the UK had 78,855 reported road accidents in 2019, with 16,551 of those happening in London. Not just that, but London’s numbers were actually higher than Wales’ (3,805) and Scotland’s (3,913) put together. 

Sometimes, factors resulting in an accident can be beyond the drivers’ control. We can be driving as carefully as possible, but the state of the road can severely affect how safe we are.

Overall, the UK saw 9,073 instances of road environments causing an accident.

We found that there were 113 fatal accidents that occured due to road environments, and 2,004 serious incidents occurring.

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