The Primary Causes of Car Accidents - Shuman Legal

The Primary Causes of Car Accidents

Last updated Monday, November 14th, 2022

The Primary Causes of Car Accidents

Minor fender benders happen. Much worse scenarios crop up too. You could get maimed, become disfigured or die. You could also take others down with you. With such horrific outcomes possible, prevention is key. The best way to keep accidents from happening is to first see how they’re caused.

The primary causes of car accidents are:

  • Distractions
  • Driving Aggressively
  • Driving Under the Influence
  • Drowsiness
  • Going the Wrong Way
  • Ignoring Traffic Signals and Signs
  • Lack of Experience
  • Making Unsafe Turns
  • Poor Lighting
  • Reckless Driving
  • Road Conditions
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Weather
  • Vehicle Defects

The main reasons accidents are caused provide insight. When you know what the biggest threats are, it’s much easier to avoid them. A large part of safe driving is simply staying aware. Driving responsibly means bringing your A-game to the road without fail.

Attorneys at Shuman Legal® fight to get justice for accident victims. We see firsthand the devastation car accidents bring. We’re glad to help you after you’ve been injured in a crash but that’s not our ultimate goal. Our hope is a future with safer roads. We want to make a difference by bringing attention to the causes of car accidents.

Injured in a Car Accident? Get FREE Legal Advice Now!
Call us at 312-422-0700An experienced Aurora car accident lawyer knows what to do. The moment you sign with Shuman Legal® – we start working.

94 Percent of Drivers Are the Root Cause of Car Accidents

Have you heard the 94 percent claim? Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, started it all. Some years back she said, “94 percent of accidents occur because of human error.” The statement continues to get plenty of press.

Is this claim true? Critics are doubtful. While drivers can control many things, they can’t control everything. Yes, operators cause accidents. Do they cause 94 percent of accidents? It seems doubtful.

Supporters argue that any way someone responds to the unexpected when driving is the cause of an accident. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Harry is driving when a flurry becomes a blizzard. The nearest highway exit is 15 miles away. He drives slowly as safely as he can. Conditions prevent him from seeing. He has an accident. Is it his fault because he didn’t anticipate a freak storm?
  • On her way to get a recall repaired, Marcy crashed because of the defective part. Is it her fault for not paying to have the vehicle towed instead of driving?
  • Zach heads through an area under heavy construction. There are large areas marked with cones very close to one another. He misses most but hits one, overcorrects and crashes. Is the accident his fault? Should he have taken a different route?

Opponents contend pointing fingers at drivers gives the real culprit a free pass. Vehicle manufacturers, transportation departments, government officials and roadway workers play a part too.

No two accidents are the same. Placing the blame primarily on drivers seems unfair at best. It may be easy to make operators the scapegoat. But breaking down the hows is way more complex.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, we can find out why. Our affordable attorneys do the research. The Shuman Legal® team learns who was in the wrong. Then we work to get justice for you from the right offender!

Lack of Attention

While there are things outside of a driver’s control, there are things within it as well. One of those such circumstances is paying attention. Anything that diverts your attention away from the road could potentially cause an accident. Examples include:

  • Applying Cosmetics
  • Arguing
  • Drinking
  • Changing Radio Stations
  • Checking Email
  • Eating
  • Handling a Pet
  • Looking for Something
  • Poking at Passengers
  • Reading
  • Sightseeing
  • Talking on the Phone Without a Hands-free Device
  • Texting

Decision Error

Some bad decisions can haunt you. Just the tiniest wrong choice can lead to disaster when driving. Learn from examples like:

  • Choosing Not to Pay Attention
  • Closing Your Eyes (Even for a Split Second) When Driving
  • Driving Irresponsibly and/or Recklessly
  • Driving Under the Influence
  • Ignoring Speed Limits, Traffic Signals and/or Stop Signs
  • Letting Your Temper Get the Best of You
  • Neglecting Basic Vehicle Maintenance of Your Ride
  • Racing
  • Riding Someone Else’s Bumper

What do all of these actions have in common? Should such thoughts enter your mind, you can make a better choice. This isn’t a decision about ice cream flavors. This choice matters. Make the right one.

Performance Error

This category is a bit different. Performance error happens when drivers see danger, then respond. The response may even be right. Executing the maneuver is when trouble starts. Common examples include:

  • Freezing Instead of Reacting Properly
  • Overcorrecting
  • Panicking
  • Slamming on Brakes

What Vehicle Issues Cause Car Accidents?

Automobiles are machines of wonder. Just because we take vehicles for granted doesn’t make them any less remarkable. The engine alone is an engineering feat.

Every piece and part must work together for cars to function properly. Even one tiny problem could compromise the entire vehicle’s safety. Staying on top of maintenance is crucial. Just look what can go wrong:

  • Antilock Brake System (ABS) Fails
  • Broken Headlight or Taillight Keeps You from Seeing
  • Brakes Don’t Hold up
  • Steering Doesn’t Work
  • Suspension Doesn’t Function as it Should
  • Tires Slide, Slip and Blowout
  • Worn Out Windshield Wiper Blades Prevent Clear Views

A related category is vehicle defects. No matter how well a car is cared for, it will always be unsafe with a defective part. The vehicle itself may have a flaw from the manufacturer. Parts can also be defective: brakes, tires and even the engine.

Think your accident was caused from a vehicle defect? Proving liability in these situations isn’t easy. You’ll need strong representation. The Shuman Legal team is experienced in showing how another’s negligence caused an accident. When you’ve suffered losses from a vehicle defect, we work to get you the settlement you deserve.

What Environmental Factors Contribute to Car Accidents?

Since driving is done outdoors, the surrounding environment matters. Visibility is impacted. Road conditions change. The speed you can drive is affected. You must adapt quickly. Factors that fall under this umbrella include:

  • Aircraft Flying Within Close Range
  • Animals That Wander into Roadways
  • Black Ice
  • Blizzards
  • Broken Traffic Lights
  • Debris in the Way
  • Derechos
  • Downed Power Lines
  • Fires
  • Floods
  • Fog
  • Glare
  • Hail
  • Haze
  • High Winds
  • Hurricanes
  • Lightning
  • Monsoons
  • Mudslides
  • Nighttime and Dusk
  • Other Accidents in Roadways
  • Rain
  • Sleet
  • Smog
  • Snow
  • Structures That Obstruct Vision
  • Tornadoes
  • Trees That Obstruct Vision
  • Traffic


What do you think? Should drivers really be held accountable for 94 percent of car accidents? There are plenty of situations where drivers can easily sit in the hot seat. But countless others… well, they aren’t always so black and white.

Knowing the primary causes of car accidents can provide perspective. Once you understand potential dangers, you can drive more defensively. While you may be on top of your game, other drivers may not be.

Seeing potential downfalls can help you create a plan to stay safe. Instead of eating on the way to work, take time for breakfast beforehand. If you must respond to emails before arriving, consider public transportation. Can’t resist texts? Turn your phone off while driving.

Accidents happen. That’s life. But anytime a crash can be prevented, it seems easy enough to make a few changes. Even if you made minor adjustments half of the time, roads would be that much safer. And that’s what it’s all about- driving safely.

Get Our Team, Working In Your Favor

Sidebar top Sidebar bottom
Most Trusted Lawyer

Shuman Legal® named as one of America's Most Trusted Lawyers Award for the 6th year in a row.

2017 Most Trusted Lawyers2018 Most Trusted Lawyers2019 Most Trusted Lawyers2020 Most Trusted Lawyers2021 Most Trusted Lawyers2022 Most Trusted Lawyers2024 Top 10 Chicago Motorcycle Accident LawyerBBB Accredited