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What Are The Leading Causes Of Car Accidents In California?

Many accidents in California can be attributed to common negligent driver behaviors, including driving while impaired, speeding and distracted driving.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of car accidents occur in Temecula and other parts of California. Crash fatalities have been on the rise over the years – 2,800 fatal crashes were reported in 2013 according to the California Highway Patrol, while 3,606 were reported in 2019. Tragically, reckless or negligent behaviors on the part of motorists contribute to many of these accidents. It is critical for drivers to understand and avoid the most common of these habits, which can greatly decrease the risk of accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Speeding

Speeding is a very common cause of severe car accidents, according to the Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center. Speeding can make crashes more likely by reducing a driver’s effective reaction time and control over his or her vehicle. Speeding drivers are also more likely to be driving impaired or driving without wearing a seatbelt.

Speed-related accidents are likelier to have catastrophic outcomes, given the large amount of energy that must be released during the crash. In 2016, a little over 29% of all of accident fatalities were speeding-related in California.

Impaired driving

Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol contribute to thousands of car crashes in California each year. For the last several years, more than one-quarter of traffic deaths in California have occurred in alcohol-related accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2018 alone, over 1,120 people in California lost their lives in these accidents – more than any other state that year.

Drug use is also a common factor in serious accidents. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 42% of drivers who were tested after a crash in 2018 had legal and/or illegal drugs in their system.

Distraction

Driver distraction is another widespread problem in California. The exact number of distracted driving accidents that occur in the state is unknown, since conclusively showing that distraction was a factor in an accident can be difficult. However, the OTS offers the following statistics on the prevalence of this dangerous habit:

  • 9% of traffic deaths across the country were the direct result of distracted driving in 2018
  • 70% of Californians listed distracted driving and texting/talking while driving as the biggest problem when driving in the state in 2019
  • Overall, authorities believe that distraction plays a role in about 80 percent of accidents that occur in the state.

Many forms of distraction that remain legal, such as eating food while driving, can still raise the risk of a car crash. Unfortunately, these habits persist because many drivers do not recognize or fully appreciate the associated risk of accidents.

Holding drivers responsible

When an accident occurs due to any of these negligent behaviors, legal recourse may be available to victims or their surviving family members. A driver who is found at fault in an accident may be liable for the resulting injuries, financial losses and other damages. However, documenting the circumstances of a crash and establishing a driver’s liability can be challenging. Consequently, the victims of crashes that involve any of these factors may benefit from consulting with an attorney for advice on navigating the claims process.