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Car Insurance

SEP 26, 2022

Top factors related to car accidents and car insurance claims

Accidents can happen at any time. Watch out for these car accidents causing factors.



8 min read

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Driving a car is a major responsibility. It can be very easy to become distracted by things inside or outside of your car when you’re behind the wheel, so it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings. If you’re not careful, even the smallest mistakes can end up having a big impact on your car and other drivers. Accidents can happen at any time. This is why it’s important to know what factors are associated with car accidents and what to watch out for while you drive.

Car crashes are costly

The true cost of crashing your car can be much more than just the damage to your vehicle. If you’re injured in the accident, you may have medical bills and lost wages. If the accident was your fault, you may have to pay for the other driver's damages. You may also have to pay higher insurance rates. Add it all up, and all of these costs can be very expensive.

Top causes of car accidents and contributing factors

Failing to maintain proper control of your vehicle often results in a car accident. For example, accidents can occur if you don’t use your brakes properly or if you oversteer in a turn causing you to hit someone else or drive off the road. Many factors can contribute to accidents. However, a few common causes stand out including driving while distracted, driving while impaired under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, driving in inclement weather conditions, and not following the rules of the road.

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Distracted driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes. Even if you’re driving alone without distractions, you may find it difficult to maintain concentration on the road. It’s easy to get caught up in conversations with passengers, music, texting while driving, and other distractions. This is one of the main reasons why distracted driving is so dangerous. Distractions can cause drivers on the road to lose focus resulting in an accident and lead to car insurance claims.

The result of these distractions can be anything from driving off of the road, hitting pedestrians, running red lights, improper lane changes, or hitting the car in front of you. The accident can result in minor injuries for yourself and others or be more significant. Distracted drivers are more likely to experience car accidents than drivers who are focused on the road because they’re paying less attention to their surroundings.

Impaired driving

Impaired driving is another major factor associated with car accidents. This includes drunk driving, or DUI, and driving under the influence of drugs or substances. With impaired driving, people might not be fully in control of their senses or bodies with slower reaction times when they’re behind the wheel. Studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, have shown that drivers who use opioids are 50% more likely to have a car accident. Drivers who drink alcohol or use drugs before getting in a car are also significantly more likely to get involved in an accident than those who don’t consume these substances. When in doubt, don't drive impaired.

Driving while tired is also another form of impaired driving, like after you’ve had a long day at work, or you’re driving a long distance road trip. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, drowsy driving is a factor in 100,000 car crashes and 800 road deaths each year in the United States. Drowsy driving is most common among young adults, shift workers, and commercial truck drivers.

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Speeding is one of the top factors that can cause a serious car accident. It causes problems because other drivers can have difficulty anticipating your actions if you’re driving faster than the speed of traffic. If you’re not careful, you might even engage in reckless driving with excessive speeding, multiple lane changes, and disregard for safe driving practices. Increasing your speed can increase your chances of hitting another driver or a pedestrian.

About vehicle stopping distance

Keep a close eye on how fast you’re going by watching your car's speedometer. Remember, the faster a vehicle is going, the longer it takes to stop. This is why it’s important to keep a safe following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. According to NHTSA, speeding is one of the most common factors in car accidents. In fact, speeding was a contributing factor in nearly 33% of all fatal auto accidents in 2020. And while many drivers think they can safely speed up when they're driving on the highway, the reality is that the faster you're going, the less reaction time you have to avoid roadway hazards. Your vehicle can travel hundreds of feet without you watching if you take your eyes off of the roadway for even a few seconds. When traveling at 60 MPH, 3 seconds equates to 264 feet of distance!

When driving at night, it’s important to have your headlights on and to be able to see the road ahead of you and not exceed the speed limit. Speeding at night can be even more dangerous than during the daytime, since you can drive faster than your headlights can illuminate what’s in front of your car. This is called "overdriving your headlights" because if a deer, obstacle, or other hazard suddenly appears in front of your car, you can’t stop fast enough to avoid hitting it. You can mitigate speeding hazards by respecting the posted speed limits and not overdriving your headlights at night.

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Weather conditions

One of the most common factors associated with car accidents are inclement weather conditions. In particular, driving in the rain, snow, sleet, fog, and other precipitation can be especially dangerous since bad weather can cause the road to be slippery. The first few minutes of a rainstorm are often the most dangerous since the standing water on roadway mingles with the road oil before running off later in the storm. Also, if there is significant rainfall, large amounts of standing water can cause your car to hydroplane. Hydroplaning is a phenomenon where your tires lose contact with the surface of the road and skim across the water's surface often resulting in a spinout. Failing to drive safely by not allowing for enough stopping distance during the start of a storm and driving through large pools of water can lead to an accident.

Having enough visibility in bad weather is also important. When it’s raining or snowing, drivers are more likely to make mistakes like tailgating, following too closely, or not changing lanes correctly because they can’t see the lane lines on the roadway. When visibility is decreased, you can’t see what’s around you very well and that can increase the chance of a collision. As a best practice, try to at least drive 10 MPH under the speed limit in bad weather.

Preparing for bad weather

There are a few things you can do to help prevent accidents in bad weather. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good working order for clearing away rain or snow. If the rubber wiper blades are cracked or dried out, they may not be able to effectively move water off of the windshield. Also, check to see if your headlights are working properly and keep your headlights on at all times. The visibility created by your headlights combined with maintaining enough stopping distance in front of your car can help you avoid road hazards.

Take your car in for regular maintenance checks including brake system checks and tires rotations. Your tires need to have enough tread on them to maintain traction. NISTA recommends having at least 2/32" tread depth and replacing your tires if they are lower than that. You can measure this by putting a penny head first into the tread. If the top of the head is above the tread, your depth is too low and your tires need replacing.

Rules of the road

Not following the rules of the road can cause many car accidents. They are defined in many states under the state's traffic code. These are laws which are maintained for the safety of drivers as they travel from place to place. Have you ever seen a police officer pull over a car and write a ticket? It was most likely a traffic code violation offense. The offenses include failure to stop at stop signs, other traffic signs, improper turns approaching traffic or in front of traffic, failure to yield, not using turn signals, following too closely, excessive speed, failure to stop at traffic signals, wrong-way driving, road rage, aggressive driving, careless driving, reckless driving, DUI, and others.

Safe travels on the road

Always be aware of your surroundings when driving and use safe driving practices to avoid accidents. Make sure to plan your route ahead of time, check your vehicle, look up the weather and road conditions, and never drive while impaired or under the influence. If you follow these simple tips, you'll be on your way to having an enjoyable and accident free journey. Safe travels from all of us at Caribou! Learn more about choosing car insurance with confidence.

Car accident FAQs

  • What are the top causes of car accidents? Car crashes can be caused by many things. A few common causes stand out including driving while distracted, driving while impaired under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, driving in inclement weather conditions, and not following the rules of the road.

  • What is distracted driving? Distracted driving involves things which take your attention off of the roadway. These distractions include conversations with passengers, music, and texting while driving which can cause drivers to lose focus resulting in an accident.

  • What is impaired driving? Impaired driving can occur when people are not fully in control of their senses or bodies when they’re behind the wheel. This often leads to slower reaction times while driving. Common causes include drunk driving, or DUI, and driving under the influence of drugs or substances.

  • What is speeding? Speeding involves driving faster than the posted speed limit and can cause a serious car accident. Other drivers can also have difficulty anticipating your actions if you’re driving faster than the posted limits.

  • What is following too closely? Your car takes time to stop. Following too closely means you are driving too close to the next driver in front of you. The faster your car is going, the longer it takes to stop. It is best to keep several car lengths of space between your car and the next car in your lane.

  • What are the rules of the road? The rules of the road are defined in many states under the state's traffic code. These rules are laws which are maintained for the safety of drivers as they travel from place to place. Violating them places you at risk of being stopped by police for traffic infractions and/or getting a ticket.

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