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Home ► Blog ► The Five Most Common Types of Vehicle Accidents in the U.S.
Driving is the most popular form of transportation in the United States. New car safety features, modernized roadways and new driver education have greatly reduced the number of vehicle accidents and the severity of injuries. Unfortunately, however, vehicle accidents are not completely avoidable. Being aware of the most common types of vehicle accidents can help you to take extra precaution and avoid being involved in an accident.
Being prepared when you are behind the wheel can be one of the best ways to avoid an accident. Familiarize yourself with the 5 most common types of vehicle accidents and then come up with a preventative plan for each.
A rear-end crash is defined as an accident in which one vehicle collides with the back of another. This type of vehicle is common and frequently occurs both on low-speed roads and heavy-traffic highways. This type of accident is often associated with minor damages and injuries, but rear-end crashes aren’t always “fender benders.” However, these accidents can be catastrophic or even deadly when a heavy vehicle is involved. Rear-end trucking accidents, for example, can cause serious damage and injury.
Rear-end crashes can cause injuries for the drivers and passengers in either vehicle, whether it’s the vehicle the caused the crash or the one crashed into. Rear-end crashes leave the neck, head, shoulders, and back especially vulnerable. The most common type of car accident injury associated with a rear-end crash is whiplash, a sprain or strain of the neck’s soft tissue. Whiplash often heals with proper treatment and care, but it is unfortunately not the only injury that can occur from a rear-end crash.
Rear-end collisions can have severe consequences. With the head and neck supporting the body’s central nervous system, injuries to the area can create lifelong damage. Serious rear-end crashes have produced permanent brain trauma and irreversible spinal damage leaving those affected paralyzed, suffering from cognitive defects, and unable to carry on day-to-day tasks.
Head-on collisions occur when vehicles drive on the wrong side of the road, move into oncoming traffic to pass another vehicle, or when they lose control of their vehicle. These accidents can occur as a result of poor visibility, impaired or sleep-deprived driving, distracted driving, and poorly marked roads. These accidents are particularly devastating as a result of the energy of two cars meeting with full energy.
Head-on collisions account for some of the worst — and most deadly — types of vehicle accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s compilation of motor vehicle crash data, over 10 percent of fatal crashes come from head-on motor vehicle collisions. While head-on collisions are some of the least common, they frequently result in catastrophic damage and fatalities.
Hit-and-run crashes are those where at least one person involved in the collision leaves the scene before documenting the accident or providing sufficient information to the other person(s) involved. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 737,100 hit and run accidents occurred in the United States in 2017. This means that a hit-and-run accident occurred every 43 seconds. These accidents carry the same burdens of the common vehicle crashes with additional legal, medical, and economic burdens.
Victims of hit-and-run crashes have to deal with potential injuries, damages to their vehicles, and documentation of the crash — all while figuring out who else is involved. Hit-and-runs are criminal offenses meaning additional burden for families and law enforcement looking for remediation, insurance reimbursement, and medical support. These crashes can also often have more severe outcomes because of delays in medical attention while law enforcement determines what happened.
Calling intersection accidents “common” is an understatement. Nearly 40 percent of all car accidents occur at intersections. The Federal Highway Administration reports roughly 2.5 million intersection accidents a year. Half of all serious collisions occur at intersections, and intersection accidents account for 20 percent of all fatal accidents.
Accidents occur at intersections for many reasons. Intersections are designed, functional areas where traffic coming from different roads and directions meet. The different crossing movements of vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians often lead to conflicts. Risks are compounded by people not following traffic laws, speeding, and making illegal turns. The majority of intersection accidents involve left turns as drivers attempt to beat oncoming traffic.
The NHTSA released a report on intersection-related accidents that detailed common factors in these crashes. The report produced many notable findings, in particular about driver assumptions and behaviors. The agency’s research found that many intersection accidents occur because of a false judgment of other driver’s speeds and distances. Drivers also often turn through intersections where they assume oncoming traffic would be turning and yielding.
Every day in the United States, 29 people die in vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Nearly 10,500 people died annually from these crashes. The annual costs of these crashes exceed $44 billion. With billions of dollars spent and someone dying every 50 minutes, drunk driving accidents are a huge problem.
A drunk driver is someone with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol at that level can affect a variety of capabilities, including muscle coordination, concentration, information processing, perception, speed control, and overall judgment. When someone is behind the wheel with a BAC over the legal limit, it’s extremely dangerous. Drunk driving accidents come with additional legal, medical, and economic challenges.
The best prevention method is preparation, so come a strategy to avoid these common types of vehicle accidents.
Here are a few actions you can add to your strategy:
Be prepared and be safe.
Horrey, William J., et al. “Hit-and-Run Crashes: Prevalence, Contributing Factors and Countermeasures.” AAA Foundation, 7 May 2019, aaafoundation.org/hit-and-run-crashes-prevalence-contributing-factors-and-countermeasures/.
“Impaired Driving: Get the Facts | Motor Vehicle Safety | CDC Injury Center.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html.
Jean.firstname.lastname@example.org. “Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).” NHTSA, 2 July 2018, www.nhtsa.gov/research-data/fatality-analysis-reporting-system-fars.
“National Center for Statistics & Analysis (NCSA).” NHTSA Material Ordering System: National Center for Statistics & Analysis (NCSA), mcs.nhtsa.gov/index.cfm?category=28.
Traffic Safety Facts 2017 A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812806.
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