Car accidents a very common incident, especially on the busy roadways of Virginia. That does not mean, however, that they are ever easy to deal with. Whether you are assessing the damages from your recent accident or are looking to avoid one in the future, it is helpful to know the most common types of car accidents that are experienced.

The leading causes of motor vehicle accidents fall into two categories: driver caused and environmentally caused. Below, we have compiled a list of the leading accident cause for both driver and environmental factors.

Note, each factor is given a number, ranking it in order of most common to least common factor resulting in an accident.


These are actions that a driver actively engages in that lead to an accident.

  • Distracted Driving
  • Speeding
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
  • Reckless Driving
  • Running Stop Signs and/or Red Lights
  • Teenage and/or Inexperienced Drives
  • Unsafe Lane Changes
  • Wrong-Way Driving
  • Improper Turns
  • Tailgating
  • Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, both legal and illegal drugs
  • Road Rage
  • Driving While Tired
  • Street Racing


These are conditions or events wholly out of the control of the driver.

  • Rain
  • Night Driving
  • Design Defects
  • Ice
  • Snow
  • Potholes
  • Tire Blowouts
  • Fog
  • Dangerous Curves
  • Animal Crossings

As you can see, driver caused accidents account for 60% of the leading cases of motor vehicle accidents and 70% of the most common factors.


1. Distracted Driving – According to the CDC’s Motor Vehicle Safety Information:

  • “In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,360 in 2011. An additional, 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012, a 9% increase from the 387,000 people injured in 2011.
  • In 2011, nearly one in five crashes (17%) in which someone was injured involved distracted driving.
  • In December 2012, more than 171 billion text messages were sent or received in the US.”

Based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, the age group most commonly involved in fatal distracted driving accidents are individuals between 20 and 39 years old.

2. Speeding – For the past decade, speeding has accounted for a consistent 30% of traffic fatalities. Despite the decline in overall fatalities, the impact of speeding has not changed.

3. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol – In 2012, Virginia had the highest number of fatal accidents caused by alcohol in the Chesapeake Bay Area (including North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington D.C.) – See the data below from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

It is human nature to frequently take life for granted and enter a vehicle with urgency to get to our destination. We tend to get frustrated on the road and act in a way as if nothing could go wrong. We encourage all drivers out there to first consider the value of life and drive in such a way! When you know what the leading causes for car accidents are, you can be more prepared the next time you hit the road. Your safety is our priority.

If you do find yourself the victim of a car accident, call Huffman & Huffman for your free consultation at (757) 599-6050,


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