Posted by Bell & Pollock P.C. on 02/11/2016

Learn Top 3 Causes of Car Crashes in the U.S.

Learn Top 3 Causes of Car Crashes in the U.S.

About 94 percent of all traffic crashes that occur in the U.S. are caused by some form of human error.In many cases, this human error involves the mistakes or bad decisions that drivers make behind the wheel.

The following discussion reveals the leading causes of car accidents in the U.S., all of which stem from driver negligence. Understanding the preventable causes of traffic crashes is crucial to helping motorists make safe choices when driving and, consequently, to saving lives.

Leading Causes of Auto Accidents in Colorado 

#1 – Distracted Driving 

According to federal data, in 2013, nearly 3,200 people were killed and an additional 424,000 others were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.  Among drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 who were involved in fatal crashes, approximately 21 percent were found to be distracted by their cellphones prior to the collision.2

While any form of multitasking behind the wheel is dangerous for drivers – texting while driving has been found to be especially problematic and dangerous. According to the NTHSA, texting while driving:

Contributes to roughly 1 in every 4 traffic accidents in the U.S.

Causes the same impairments as drunk driving, impacting motorists’ perception and slowing their reaction/response times by as much as 18 percent

Is about 6 times more likely to cause an auto accident than drunk driving

Kills at least 11 teenagers in the U.S. everyday

Outside of the problem of cell phones, there are a lot of other distracted driving behaviors that pose a risk to public safety on the roads.

Insurance Journal has reported that 62 percent of fatal distracted driving collisions were caused by daydreaming drivers while cellphone use caused 12 percent of collisions and eating or drinking while driving caused 2 percent.

Clearly, when anything pulls motorists’ attention away from the roads, the risk of a collision increases dramatically. And, motorists in Colorado and across the nation seem to be succumbing to distractions all too often as the data indicates.

# 2 – Impaired Driving  

Every year, approximately 30 percent of all fatal auto accidents in the U.S. are caused by drunk drivers. This translates to at least 10,000 people across the nation being killed by intoxicated drivers each year. To put these numbers in a different light, this breaks down to:

Someone in the U.S being killed by a drunk driver every 52 minutes

Every day, drunk drivers killing an average of 28 people across the nation.

Tragically, however, alcohol intoxication may only be one part of the problem when it comes to driver impairment. In Colorado, marijuana impairment is another prominent concern ever since the legalization of recreational pot in the state.

As with alcohol impairment, marijuana impairment can result in motorists’ experiencing impaired judgment and perception, as well as coordination problems and delayed reaction times,

While Colorado law prohibits drivers from driving when they are impaired by alcohol or marijuana (or other drugs), separate marijuana DUI charges do not currently exist in Colorado. According to the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), however, in 2014, about 12 percent of all DUI arrests made by their troopers – or in about 674 arrests – involved suspicions of marijuana impairment.3

Given that alcohol- and drug-related traffic crashes are 100 percent preventable, Bell & Pollock, PC is proud to have teamed up with MADD in Colorado to increase awareness about the dangers of drunk driving, deter this deadly behavior, and raise money for victims.

#3 – Speeding 

Every month in the U.S., about 1,000 people are killed in accidents caused by speeding. Over the course of a year, federal regulators estimate that speeding-related crashes cost the U.S. more than $23 billion.

What may be more distressing than these findings is the fact that, the more that drivers exceed the speed limit (i.e., the faster they are going), the far greater the chances are that they will be in a crash that causes them serious injury or death. In fact, NHTSA data has indicated that, for every 10 miles per hour (mph) that drivers exceed the speed limit over 50 mph, they double their risk of debilitating injury or death.4

And, yet, far too often, people are in a hurry, they forget or disregard the need to slow down due to weather conditions and they end up presenting a significant threat to public safety on the roads.

How Much Could Be  Saved If Drivers Were More Careful Behind the Wheel 

If all motorists committed to being sober and focused while obeying the law every time they drove, clearly, thousands of lives could be saved every year in the U.S. Additionally, billions in aggregate losses could be prevented

As NHTSA data has revealed regarding the costs and substantial impacts of car accidents in the U.S.:

The economic costs of motor vehicle losses total nearly $900 for each person living in the U.S.

Crashes have a total cost of $871 billion when factoring in both actual economic loss, as well as overall harm to society. The economic costs are about $277 billion, and the costs for societal harm are around $594 billion. Societal harm costs are determined by assessing the loss of life caused by collisions, as well as the pain and decreased quality of life that crashes can cause.

Around 18 percent of total economic losses resulting from motor vehicle collisions happen in accidents caused by drunk drivers.  The economic loss from DUI accidents is around $49 billion, which is $158 for each person in the U.S.

Around 23 percent of all costs associated with societal harm occur in drunk driving collisions. These accidents account for about $199 billion in societal costs.

An estimated 21 percent of total economic loss resulting from collisions occurs as a result of speeding. Drivers who go too fast and who cause wrecks cost the nation $59 billion in economic damages in a single year. This is the equivalent of $191 per person in the U.S.

Around 24 percent of all societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes was caused by speeding. When lost quality of life and other societal costs were considered, speeding accidents had a price tag of $210 billion.

Around 17 percent of total economic loss from collisions in the U.S. resulted from driver distraction.  The economic loss caused by distracted drivers totaled more than $46 billion, or an average of $148 per person in the U.S.

Around 15 percent of societal harm costs were caused by distracted driving.  The dollar value of the losses was set at $129 billion.

This data clearly shows that, if motorists would simply stop doing these three extremely dangerous behaviors – driving when impaired, driving when distracted, and speeding, billions of dollars could be saved every year. 

Motorists also need to buckle up, as a lack of seat belt use among some motorists resulted in $14 billion in economic loss and $72 billion in lost quality of life.

The Bottom Line 

Drivers who make dangerous and reckless choices need to be held accountable so that injured people and their families are not left to cope with financial problems and uncompensated losses while also focusing on recovery or grieving a death.

An attorney can help car accidents survivors, including families who have lost loved ones, hold dangerous drivers accountable. And that can be the key to securing a sense of justice and being able to move on.

Full Disclosure:

The information you obtain from this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.

If you are in Colorado and happen to be injured in an auto accident then we invite you to call on us at Bell & Pollock, P.C. and we’d like to see if we can be of help.


1: According to the NHTSA http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/nhtsa-sees-roadway-deaths-increasing-02052016

2: According to the NHTSA http://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/facts-and-statistics.html

3: According to the Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_27421987/marijuana-involved-12-percent-colorado-state-patrol-dui

4: According to the NHTSA http://www.nhtsa.gov/Aggressive

5: According to the NHTSA http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Occupant+Protection










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