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Main Causes of Auto Accidents – and How You Can Avoid Them

The Carolina Law Group > Blog  > Main Causes of Auto Accidents – and How You Can Avoid Them

Main Causes of Auto Accidents – and How You Can Avoid Them

Monty Desai | Attorney, Greenville, SC

Monty Desai | Partner & Attorney

South Carolina is used to being recognized for things like having wonderful cuisine, beautiful beaches, and great quality of life, but there’s another thing we’re known for: bad drivers and unsafe roads.

Greer was recently named the #1 worst city in the US for driver safety, as ranked by the online insurance comparison site Insurify. South Carolina is one of the worst states for speeding and has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the country. There are over 100,000 collisions in this state every year.

But what causes all those crashes? Here are the top causes of traffic accidents and what you can do to reduce your chances of being involved in one.  

Driver Error Accounts for 94% of Traffic Accidents

According to a publication from the NHTSA (PDF), the vast majority of crashes are associated with a driver-related critical reason. The “critical reason” is the “immediate reason for the critical pre-crash event and is often the last failure in the causal chain of events leading up to the crash.”

“Driver-Related Critical Reasons” were attributed to a full 94% of all crashes (fatal and non-fatal), broken down into the following categories:

  •      Recognition error such as inattention and distraction (41%)
  •      Decision error such as driving too fast for conditions, misjudging other drivers’ actions or space available, and making illegal maneuvers (33%)
  •      Performance error such as overcompensation and poor control (11%)
  •      Non-performance error, where sleep was the most common reason (7%)
  •      Other (8%)

Vehicle and Environmental Causes of Traffic Accidents

Critical reasons having to do with the vehicle or environment were much less common, each accounting for only 2% of recorded crashes.

Of the vehicle-related crashes, the top two critical reasons were:

  •      Tires/wheels-related (35%)
  •      Brakes-related (22%)

Of the vehicle-related crashes, the top three critical reasons were:

  •      Slick roads (ice, loose debris, etc.) (50%)
  •      Glare (17%)
  •      View obstructions (11%)

“Human choices”: The Leading Cause of Traffic Fatalities  

According to the CDC, Unintentional Motor Vehicle Traffic were a top 3 leading cause of death for all age groups in 2016, holding the #1 position for ages 5-24 (PDF). The majority of these deaths were due to human error.

The NHTSA found that of 37,461 traffic fatalities in 2016 (the most recent year for which full data are available, here), they could be broken down into the following top categories:

  •      Alcohol impaired driving fatalities: 10,497 (28%)
  •      Speeding-related fatalities: 10,111 (27%)
  •      Distraction-affected fatalities: 3,450 (9%)
  •      Drowsy driving fatalities: 803 (2%)

Another 10,428 fatalities were attributed to lack of seatbelt use. Though this does not tell us the cause of the crash, it does show how important seatbelt use is for safety. Approximately 50% of those who died in traffic accidents in 2016 were not wearing a seatbelt.

What You Can Do to Stay Safe on the Roads

Stop drunk driving. Don’t drive when you’ve been drinking and if you plan to drink, make arrangements to get home before going out. Don’t allow other people to get behind the wheel when they’ve been drinking. Look out for, and avoid, drivers swerving or driving erratically on the roads, as they may be drunk. Be extra careful of drunk drivers on national holidays, when drunk driving accidents are more likely to occur.  

Stop distracted driving. Put down the phone, stop engaging with the car’s touch screen, and save the food for later so you can concentrate on the road. As a passenger, ask the driver to stop texting, and be quiet when the driver needs to concentrate.

Obey posted speed limits and reduce speed in adverse weather or road conditions. Give a lot of room to other vehicles you see speeding.

Keep your vehicle in good condition. Check the treads on your tires regularly and have them replaced when needed. Have brakes inspected and maintained.

Wear your seatbelt. This will not prevent a crash from occurring but can save lives and reduce the severity of injuries.

Speak to the Traffic Accident Attorneys at The Carolina Law Group for Free

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident and you want to know what your rights are, speak to one of the personal injury attorneys at The Carolina Law Group. Schedule your free initial consultation with by filling out this contact form or by calling one of the numbers below.

The Carolina Law Group has four offices in upstate South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), West Greenville (864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), and Spartanburg (principal office; call 864.757.5555). Call today.


Monty D. Desai came to the United States on Christmas Eve, 1988. After high school he joined the service in order to earn money for college. Monty would go on to earn a letter of commendation as a Navy Corpsman for the Marine Corps. After his service, Monty completed his undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina. From there, Monty went on to attend Thomas M. Cooley Law School on full scholarship, where he earned his Juris Doctorate. Following graduation from law school, Monty served as prosecutor with Greenville County Solicitor’s Office, and also worked as a a adjunct professor in the Criminal Justice Division at Greenville Technical College. In 2015 Monty was recognized by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys as ranked among the Top 10 Under 40 for excellence in the field of personal injury.

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