Top Five Most Common Causes of Auto Accidents

Written by Andrew Freiburghouse and Gary Bangstad on February 3, 2010 & Posted in Auto Insurance

Learn the top five dangerous behaviors that can raise your insurance rates, force you to surrender your auto or motorcycle license, and have injurious or even deadly consequences.

Take a lesson from these top five dangerous behaviors, and take responsibility for your own safety on the road.

#1. Speeding
Topping the list of auto accidents is speeding, a common cause of injury and death in car and motorcycle accidents worldwide. Speed-related crashes resulted in 13,192 fatalities in 2004, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Shaving a few extra minutes off your total driving time just isn't worth the risk and rising insurance rates of an accident. If you need another reason to stop speeding, think about your gas mileage; for every 5 mph you drive over 60, you pay an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

#2. Drunk Driving
Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that on average, someone is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes. In 2007, an estimated 12,998 people died in drunk driving related crashes. Another sure cause of increased insurance rates is a DUI. Moreover, drunk driving can add a layer of danger to already dangerous behavior. In 2002, 42 percent of drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared to a much lower 15 percent for drivers not under the influence, according to the NHTSA.

#3. Aggressive Driving
Road rage and other aggressive driving habits are caused in part by an increase in traffic. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles found that the number of vehicle miles driven each year is up 35 percent over the past ten years, yet the number of miles of roadway has increased by only 1 percent. Does rush hour traffic have you strangling the steering wheel? A few deep breaths could save you more than the extra stress as you avoid accidents and the skyrocketing insurance rates that come with them. Invest in a cheap stress-relieving squeeze ball and keep it in your glove compartment for wall-to-wall traffic.

#4. Driver Distraction
Keeping your eyes on the road during an accident can do a lot to keep yourself safe. Virginia Commonwealth University and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles found that rubbernecking an accident scene accounted for 16 percent of distraction-related crashes.

#5. Driver Fatigue
If you're driving home after a long day, you may be putting yourself in danger. The same Virginia study found that driving while fatigued accounted for 12 percent of distraction-related crashes. Whether you're operating a car or a motorcycle, staying awake and alert can keep you safe on the road at all hours of the day.

When calculating your policy rates, motorcycle and auto insurance companies pay close attention to your history on the road. Keep a clean record by avoiding these top five dangerous behaviors.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Speeding Fact Sheet
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Did You Know Fact Sheet
SafeNY.com, Aggressive Driving
U.S. Department of Energy, Driving More Efficiently
Washington Post, VA Study: Eyes on the Road, by Matt McMillen

About the Author

Andrew Freiburghouse is a writer and businessman. As a partner at Los Angeles tax preparation firm Pronto Income Tax of California, Inc., Andrew has served thousands of clients both face to face and over the telephone. Currently, Andrew lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is in the process of starting up his own tax practice.

Gary P. Bangstad, Ed. D. is a freelance writer in the area of business and insurance. Previously, he worked for Midwest Financial Planning LTD, selling insurance and investment products. He has also taught music at the university level.


Featured Auto Insurance Companies

Insurify™️ - Virginia Drivers Can Save Up to 50%

  • The easiest way to compare 20 real quotes from top brands
  • Prices starting from $29/mo
  • Trusted by more than 4 million drivers - 4.9 star reviews
  • As seen on Fox News, WSJ, Forbes, Fortune Magazine

Ask Our Expert

View All

Q. Will my policy pay off my car loan if my car is totaled?
A. An explanation of what happens if your car is totaled out when you still owe money on your car loan or lease. Read More

Q. Will car insurance cover my stolen personal items?
A. If someone steals personal items from your car, will car insurance cover those items? Read More


Required parameter not set.
Request a Quote for:

Recent Insurance Stories

View All
Simple ways to save on car insurance
If you can put in a little time to review your car insurance policy, it's possible to save hundreds, or more, on your annual auto insurance premium. Comparison shop. The No. 1 way to obtain cheap car insurance rates is to compare car insurance Read More...
  • How car insurance liability limits work
  • Road trips and car insurance
  • Uninsured motorist: What is it good for?
  • What covers car for storm damage?
  • Featured Auto Insurance Companies

    Cheap Auto Insurance - Save up to 40%

    • Top Rated Insurance Companies
    • Bundle Home & Auto for additional savings
    • Save up to 40%
    • Get Started Now!