In general, the main cause of car accidents is driver error. When a careless or reckless error causes a traffic accident and leads to injuries, it may be considered negligence. When the local laws allow, victims may hold the at-fault driver accountable for their injuries and other damages.
In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. This survey was based on a large number of accidents that occurred between 2005 and 2007. According to this report, there are three categories of driver error that can lead to accidents. These include:
- Recognition errors, such as distractions, failure to see oncoming vehicles, failure to check blind spots, and inattention.
- Decision errors, such as speeding, aggressive or reckless driving, and driving while intoxicated.
- Performance errors, such as failing to maintain control in poor weather, overcompensation, and overcorrecting.
The Most Common Driver Errors That Lead to Collisions
While driver error is the main cause of car accidents, understanding exactly what leads to accidents and why they occurred is important when building a car accident case for fault-based compensation.
According to the NHTSA, the majority of the accidents studied were caused by recognition errors—a total of 41%. Decision errors followed closely behind at 34%, with 10% for performance errors. The remaining 7% of accidents were classified as non-performance errors, such as falling asleep at the wheel or heart attacks.
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Frequent Recognition Errors
According to the NHTSA study, most drivers failed to spot dangers before completing a driving maneuver, such as merging or turning. The study referred to this recognition error as “inadequate surveillance.”
The researchers from the NHTSA also looked at activities the drivers were performing in addition to driving. The 2008 survey shows that almost one in five drivers was engaged in non-driving activity while behind the wheel at the time of an accident, such as talking to passengers.
There has been no similar nationally representative evaluation of accident causes since the 2008 NHTSA study. While this information is still very useful in identifying common causes of accidents, there have also been some significant developments since then.
For example, advances in vehicle safety systems have made some accident types less likely, but more technology in the car has likely increased distracted driving accidents even more. Since this time, the popularity of texting, social media, and other online content has increased dramatically. In addition, more people are using their phones for music and GPS while driving.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drivers around the world are four times more likely to be in an accident when using their cell phones than drivers who are not using their phones.
Circumstances of Car Accidents
According to the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, there are relatively few “pre-crash events” that lead to the majority of all car accidents in the United States. These include the following:
- Crossing or turning at an intersection: 36% of accidents
- Running off the road: 22%
- Stopping at a red light, stop sign, or for another reason: 12%
- Failure to maintain their lane: 11%
- Losing control of the vehicle: 9%
While these statistics do not necessarily show fault or tell us why the accidents occurred, they do allow us to understand the circumstances around the accidents. This can further help to identify the level of liability in a collision. Lawyers and insurance companies may use this information to reconstruct an accident and determine exactly what happened.
Identifying the Cause of an Accident and Assigning Fault
If you were the victim of a traffic accident in New Jersey or New York and you may qualify to pursue a fault-based insurance claim. Identifying the cause of the accident will be key in recovering compensation. Your attorney will need to understand what caused your accident in order to determine if negligence occurred and assign liability.
To prove to the at-fault driver’s insurance provider or the court that you deserve a payout based on your accident, you will need strong evidence to show the actions that led to the collision, including both how the accident occurred and why. The evidence used in these cases often includes:
- The police accident report.
- Eyewitness statements.
- Accident reconstructions and expert testimony.
- Proof of your injuries, expenses, and losses.
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Speak With a Member of Our Car Accident Team Today
If you were hurt in a traffic accident in New Jersey or New York, an attorney from Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi P.C. can help you understand if you qualify to take legal action. We will evaluate your case for free and may be able to pursue your insurance settlement for you. In some cases, we may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek financial recovery on your behalf.
To learn more, call (201) 585-9111. You can speak with a member of our traffic accident team today for free.