What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents?

A young woman sitting in her car with the door open calling her parent after she's been in an accident.

No one wants to get into a car accident. Aside from the stress and trauma of enduring such an experience – not to mention the possibility of being seriously injured or killed – collisions and car crashes will likely crank up the cost of your car insurance premium.

According to data from Transport Canada, there were 1,922 motor vehicle fatalities in 2018, representing a 3.6% increase from the previous year. Seniors (people aged 65 or older) represented the largest cohort to die in a car accident (430 in 2018). Though serious injuries trended downward that year, people between the ages of 25 to 34 suffered the largest amount of injuries overall (28,819).

Driving safely should be the goal of every driver. Unfortunately, not everyone adheres to that principle. Some of the most common car accidents in Canada may be prevented by driving the speed limit, staying focused on driving, and only getting behind the wheel when you’re straight and sober.

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Why Do Car Accidents Happen?

There are many reasons why car accidents occur. Statistics from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation in Ottawa states 90% of road crashes are the result of human error.

Usually, the police can pinpoint a direct cause of any collision. Some of the most common are:

  • Speeding. Speed kills. It is a leading cause of death on Ontario’s roads. Speeding convictions can also have a detrimental impact on your insurance premium.
  • Driving in Bad Weather. Poor visibility, slippery roads and other unsafe conditions are often the result of poor weather. This doesn't just happen in the winter; even summertime can see flash floods and unexpected rainstorms.
  • Distracted Driving. Distracted driving is the greatest threat on our roads today. But driver distraction isn't just about mobile phones. Eating, talking to passengers, and fiddling with electronic units all take your concentration off of the road.
  • Impaired Driving. Driver impairment is one of the most talked about accident causes. Numerous campaigns over the years have encouraged drivers to stay sober before getting behind the wheel. Nonetheless, it remains a leading cause of road collisions and traffic fatalities.

How to Avoid Getting Into a Car Accident

The good news is that road safety is largely in your hands. There are many ways you can make accidents less likely, including:

  • Slow Down. Obey the posted speed limits. Leave plenty of space between yourself and other drivers, especially those in front of you. Don’t tailgate, cut off other drivers when changing lanes, or drive aggressively.
  • Keep Your Car in Good Condition. Breakdowns or mechanical inefficiencies hinder your ability to control your driving. Keep everything running smoothly with regular checks. Each winter install winter tires. Many insurers will provide you with a small discount for doing so.
  • Be Aware of Weather and Road Conditions. Information is power. If you expect a rainstorm or sleet, you can be more mindful of low visibility and drive accordingly.
  • Put the Phone Down. Put the mobile phone away and keep your eyes on the road – even when you’re at a stoplight.
  • Don’t Drive Drunk or High. If you enjoy a night out, don't get behind the wheel if you consume alcohol or cannabis. Appoint a designated driver or call a taxi.
  • Stay Calm Behind the Wheel. Anger can cause you to make rash decisions. Try to keep calm as much as possible. If another driver cuts you off or changes lanes in front of you without signalling, don’t take it personally. Take a deep breath and let it go.

Remember: driving a vehicle is a privilege, not a right. Avoiding an accident demands driving defensively and concentrating on the road.

If you are a frequent driver or someone who commutes to work, you may be at a greater risk of a collision. You can still drive with a standard or basic insurance policy, but you may want to purchase some additional protection. For instance, you can up the coverages for third-party liability and accident benefits, which can give you an additional protection in case the worst happens.