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What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in Washington and the United States?

What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in Washington and the United States? When traffic collisions are caused by driver error, most of the investigative process involves attempting to understand the decisions the driver made that led to the accident. While most drivers will eventually catch themselves committing at least one of the most common causes of car accidents, it is important to learn about them so that you may avoid them while behind the wheel. However, driver error alone might not always be the main factor in a car accident in Seattle.

Car Accidents: Top Killer Of Children, Young Adults

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2020 saw 40,698 people losing their lives as a result of traffic accidents across the country. With 12.4 deaths per 100,000 population, car accidents remain as one of the top causes of death among children, teenagers, and young adults in the United States.

On average, approximately 1.2 million people worldwide die in car accidents annually. Some of the most common causes of auto accidents in the United States include:

Drunk Driving:

Drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs are among the leading caused for car accidents in Washington State and elsewhere in the nation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) numbers show that 37,261 people died in auto accidents in 2008 in the United States. Out of that about 11,773 died in DUI collisions. Drunk driving fatalities accounted for 32 percent of all auto accident deaths in 2008. In 2016, however, the number of deadly drunk driving accidents had dropped to 10,497. These accidents accounted for 28 percent of all deadly traffic accidents that year. While the drop was considerable, it is far from ideal, as thousands of Americans are dying yearly as a result of DUI crashes.

In order to avoid these types of accidents, drivers must simply follow the law. Getting behind the wheel in Washington state while impaired is against the law. By driving responsibly, Washington drivers will also prevent accidents.

Distracted Drivers:

Every day in the United States nine people are killed in traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers. That is a dreadful reality that will keep haunting us well into the future. In Washington state, officials registered 90 deadly traffic collisions in 2020 that involved distracted driving.

With the advent of communications technology, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of automotive crashes. The problem is on a par with drunk driving. Primary sources of distraction include all forms of cell phone communication, texting, looking at scenery, adjusting audio equipment, applying makeup, shaving, and eating behind the wheel. When a driver’s hands are not on the wheel, his eyes are not on the road, and his attention is not on driving. Distracted drivers cause about 25 percent of all auto accidents in the U.S.

If you are operating a motor vehicle and your attention isn’t focused on the act of driving and the road ahead, you are probably distracted. Taking part in any activity that keeps your attention away from driving will make you less likely to avoid a collision, putting lives at risk.

Driver Fatigue:

Numerous accidents are caused by sleepy motorists. As a matter of fact, a National Safety Council (NSC) report shows that each year, drowsy driving causes 100,000 accidents, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 deaths nationwide. These types of accidents often happen in the early hours of the day. If drivers are traveling at high speeds, drowsy driving can become even more dangerous as crashes can have greater impact when the vehicle is traveling at high rates of speed.

It is extremely important to get a good night’s sleep or to take frequent breaks while driving, especially during long drives so you’re not falling asleep at the wheel.


Most states including Washington have basic speed laws. Speeding is a serious threat because it not only reduces the amount of time necessary to avoid a crash, but also increases the risk of a crash and results in far serious injuries. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that when the speed increases from 40 mph to 60 mph in a crash, the energy released more than doubles.

In Washington state, officials reported that 30 percent of all deadly traffic accidents in 2020 involved speeding. That means that out of the 574 deadly crashes reported in Washington state in 2020, 173 involved a speeding driver.

Reckless or Aggressive Driving:

Typically, these are drivers who operate a motor vehicle without regard for the rights or safety of other users of streets and highways. This includes activity such as street-racing, tailgating, unsafe lane changes, disregarding traffic signals or stop signs, weaving through traffic and failure to yield right-of-way.


In many traffic collision cases, especially in Seattle, weather can play a significant part. Rain, snow, sleet, the glare of the sun, wet roadways or icy highways — they can all contribute to a crash. If the driver is inexperienced, which is the case of many teenagers and young adults, the weather can play an even greater role. In inclement weather, it is ideal to avoid traveling. But if you must travel, be sure to slow down and take all possible precautions to avoid a crash.

Dangerous Roadways:

Hazardous roadways are those streets or highways that present legitimate dangers to motorists, commuters or pedestrians. Examples of unsafe roadway components include, but are not limited to, potholes, uneven pavement, lack of proper signage, and lack of striping.

Defective Vehicles:

There is little that a driver can do when his or her vehicle goes out of control. Dangerous or defective vehicles can play a significant role or even cause a serious car accident. That’s why it is so important to stay on top of auto recalls and respond to them promptly when your vehicle is impacted.

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