What Are the Most Common Causes of Fatal Traffic Collisions?

What Are the Most Common Causes of Fatal Traffic CollisionsMotor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in California. While some collisions result in minor injuries, tragically, too many are fatal. From January to June 2023, 19,515 people died in motor vehicle crashes. Most of us are on the road daily and may wonder, What is one of the most common causes of traffic collisions? Or perhaps you lost a loved one in a car accident and are curious about your options for compensation from the at-fault party. While no amount of money could ever replace your loss, you have a right to pursue justice on their behalf. Read on to learn more about the most common causes of fatal car collisions and what you may be qualified to recover as a victim.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving poses a significant threat to all drivers on the road. Distractions can be broken down into the following three categories:

  • Visual distractions. These are the types of distractions that cause you to look away from the road. Examples include texting while driving, reviewing your GPS, or adjusting the media console.
  • Manual distractions. These are actions that require you to take your hand off the steering wheel. Examples include reaching for your phone that may have fallen, reaching to take off your jacket or coat while driving, and looking for something in your car while driving.
  • Cognitive distractions. These are distractions that cause you to lose focus on driving. Cognitive focus distractions include daydreaming, fatigued driving, thinking about work or school, strong emotions such as extreme happiness or sadness, and anger or road rage.

Drivers must take steps to reduce distractions while driving to keep themselves safe, as well as all other drivers and pedestrians on the road.

Impaired Driving

Driving while impaired negatively affects a driver’s ability to react to sudden changing conditions and increases the likelihood of poor judgment. In 2021, there was an increase to 1,370 fatal car accidents involving drivers or motorcycle riders with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. That same year, 52.9% of all drivers killed in accidents who were tested, tested positive for legal or illegal drugs.

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving, including excessive speeding, tailgating, racing, weaving in and out of traffic quickly, illegal lane changes, and running red lights, is one of the most common causes of fatal traffic collisions. All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonable manner. If an accident results due to one of these reckless acts the driver should be held responsible for the injuries or death that result.


Speeding increases the chances of a car accident having catastrophic consequences. As the speed of a motor vehicle increases, so does the amount of force exerted in a collision. Driving at high speeds also makes it difficult for cars to stop in sudden changing road conditions or other conditions.

Fatigued Driving

One of the most common causes of traffic collisions is driving while drowsy or fatigued. Driving while fatigued is similar to driving under the influence as it similarly reduces reaction time and awareness of your surroundings. If fatigued, a driver should pull off the road safely to get rest until they feel more alert.

Poor Road Conditions

Poor road conditions, including potholes, improper lighting, dangerous curves, or sloping, can cause serious car collisions. Your attorney can explore options for liability against local municipalities and government agencies for failing to maintain the road in a safe condition. It’s vital to speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you lost a loved one in an accident due to poor road conditions.

Failure to Maintain Vehicle

Failing to maintain your vehicle is another one of the most common causes of fatal car collisions. Balding tires, faulty brakes, and steering issues can result when someone fails to take their car in for regular maintenance. Car crashes caused by poor maintenance are preventable. If a driver fails to maintain their vehicle in a safe condition and causes a fatal car accident, they can be held liable for their negligence.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a type of claim that arises when a person dies due to the misconduct or negligence of another. A wrongful death claim may arise out of any number of circumstances, however, the most common causes of a wrongful death claim arise due to car accidents. Other examples include:

  • Dangerous products,
  • Premises liability, and
  • Defective products.

Proving a wrongful death claim requires establishing the negligence of the liable party. Without an attorney, survivors may lose out on valuable compensation they are entitled to recover.

How Much Is A Wrongful Death Claim Worth?

California law permits plaintiffs in wrongful death claims to recover two types of compensatory damages, economic and noneconomic.

Economic damages in wrongful death claims are financial losses resulting from the wrongful death. Examples of these damages include:

  • Lost financial support of the decedent during their lifetime,
  • Medical expenses,
  • Funeral and burial expenses of the deceased,
  • Value of household services the decedent would have provided during their lifetime, and
  • The loss of any benefits and gifts the survivors would have received from the decedent.

Calculating the value of these damages requires a skilled attorney utilizing evidence like pay stubs, tax returns, invoices, receipts, and bills.

Noneconomic damages are the subjective losses resulting from the death. Examples of noneconomic damages in a wrongful death claim include the following:

  • Loss of the decedent’s love, protection, and society,
  • Loss of consortium, and
  • Loss of the decedent’s moral support and guidance.

Quantifying the value of these intangible losses is challenging, however, they are vital for survivors to receive the full value of their claim and obtain justice for the death of their loved one.

Contact Us

For decades, Attorney Michael Henderson of Henderson Law has provided his clients with his unsurpassed experience and in-depth knowledge of personal injury law. His experience puts clients at a decisive advantage when seeking financial compensation from a liable party. Henderson Law is prepared to take you through every phase of the lawsuit process and will take your case to trial if necessary. With tens of millions of dollars in judgments and settlements obtained on behalf of his clients, Henderson Law does everything in its power to ensure that you receive justice and the financial support you deserve. While there is no such thing as a cut-and-dry case, we possess the seasoned experience and judgment to advocate on your behalf and obtain the best possible outcome. Get in touch with us today to discuss your case.