The Most Common Cause of Traffic Collisions

AUTHOR: A.J. Bruning | February 15, 2022
The Most Common Cause of Traffic Collisions

Traffic accidents occur every day for various reasons, including distraction, intoxication, even ignoring the rules of the road. However, some factors can raise the risk of an accident more than others.

What is the most common cause of traffic collisions? While distracted driving has a highly negative reputation (and may, according to the NHTSA, cause more than 3,000 traffic fatalities and thousands more accidents each year), it may not cause as many accidents as another dangerous behavior: speeding.

Speeding and Accident Stats

According to the NHTSA, speeding contributes to an estimated 26 percent of vehicle fatalities each year, or an average of more than 9,000 traffic fatalities annually.

85 percent of speed-related fatalities occur on non-interstate roadways.

Younger drivers, particularly those in the 15 to 20 age range, are more likely to die in speed-related crashes. Male drivers are also more likely than female drivers to be involved in fatal traffic crashes involving speeding.

Speeding drivers have an approximately three times greater risk of getting involved in a traffic collision than drivers traveling at the speed limit.

Why Is Speeding so Dangerous?

Speeding poses several critical dangers.

#1 At high speeds, drivers have a harder time controlling their vehicles.

Many drivers need to react faster to control their vehicles safely. They need more time to stop and more time to maneuver, whether they need to swerve around hazards on the road or stop for another vehicle traveling slower in front of them. Unfortunately, those drivers frequently cannot safely stop their vehicles despite the hazards around them.

#2 Distraction can prove particularly dangerous at high rates of speed.

It only takes a second’s inattention for disaster to strike on the road. Unfortunately, cars traveling at high rates of speed pose more of a danger when the driver becomes distracted than vehicles traveling at a lower rate of speed. A driver who takes his attention away from the road for seconds at a high rate of speed will travel a greater distance and miss more of what happens around him, ultimately raising the risk of an accident more than the distraction of a driver traveling at a lower rate of speed.

#3 Speed increases the force behind an accident.

At high rates of speed, an accident involves considerably more force than a low-impact collision. Speeding drivers may end up causing substantially more damage and considerably worse injuries than drivers who choose to travel at the speed limit. Speeding also increases the risk of fatalities in an accident.

Why Do Drivers Speed?

Drivers often think little of speeding. As the speedometer in the car creeps up, many drivers ignore it, especially on familiar roads with relatively little traffic.

#1 Some drivers speed for the thrill.

Some drivers enjoy the thrill of speeding. They love the adrenaline rush of near misses and the feeling of the road rushing by as they push to their limits. Drivers who speed for the thrill may become more dangerous with time. Instead of becoming cautious after near misses, they may challenge themselves to increase their speeds further, which can continue to raise the risk of an accident.

#2 Many drivers think themselves competent enough to ignore speed limits.

Around 73 percent of American drivers think they drive better than average. They assume that, since speed limits generally reflect the rates at which average divers can safely travel, they can safely push the speed limit without risk. However, many drivers do not have the same level of competence they assume. Often, that cockiness results in serious accidents.

#3 Drivers often speed to avoid lateness.

Sometimes, speeding occurs because drivers want to avoid reaching their destinations late. They may leave late, or at the last minute. They may encounter traffic snarls along the way. They may watch the clock counting down and know that it could prevent them from reaching their destinations on time.

As the clock gets closer to their scheduled arrival time, many drivers start speeding more to save time.

In reality, however, speeding rarely actually saves considerable time on the road. In many cases, speeding can increase the time drivers spend on the road, since it can cause traffic snarls. If speeding results in an accident, it can delay the driver’s arrival even further.

#4 Some drivers speed to show off.

Young male drivers, in particular, may speed because they want to show off to their passengers. Speeding brings a thrill and shows their competence behind the wheel, as long as they reach their destinations safely. Unfortunately, some speeding drivers may end up inadvertently causing severe accidents due to that negligence behind the wheel.

#5 Speeding can result from distraction or inattention.

Some drivers do not realize how much their speed has increased. They may grow distracted, paying attention to things other than the vehicle. They may not have any idea how fast they have driven. Many drivers look down too late, realize their speed has increased beyond safe levels, and try to slow down only to discover that they do not have adequate time to stop before reaching an intersection or colliding with another vehicle.

#6 Excessive hours on the road can increase the risk of speeding.

After many hours on the road, including hours spent on a road trip or driving a big truck, many drivers settle into a road haze that prevents them from realizing how fast they travel. In many cases, drivers continue to increase their speeds over their time on the road. They may feel perfectly able to handle those increased speeds as they grow increasingly comfortable or get closer to their destinations.

#7 Some drivers speed because they do not pay attention to speed limit signs.

Some drivers fail to recognize speed limit signs and the limitations they should place on them. Sometimes, drivers do not see those signs, especially when speed drops swiftly. However, ignoring speed limit signs does not offer a valid excuse for speeding, and could indicate that the driver suffers from a high level of distraction or inattention behind the wheel.

Are There Valid Reasons for Speeding?

Speed limits exist to help keep everyone safe on the road. While you might have the right to argue a speeding ticket based on an emergency, including conditions that put someone else’s life in danger if you did not speed, speeding even under emergency circumstances increases the risk of an accident and can raise the odds of serious damage and injury.

If someone causes an accident due to speeding, even in an emergency, they may bear liability for any injuries they cause. Likewise, if you have an accident with a speeding driver, even one who claims a valid reason for speeding, you can still pursue compensation for your injuries from that driver’s insurance company.

The speeding driver may also, in some cases, face legal penalties, including fines or even license loss, in the case of reckless driving. Furthermore, you may end up having to live with the serious consequences of an accident caused by speeding, including the potential challenges associated with severe injuries.

Excuses for speeding might help speeding drivers avoid a ticket, but they do not change driver liability in the case of serious accidents. An attorney can explain your rights after an accident with a speeding driver, and manage your injury claim.

What Should I Do After an Accident with a Speeding Driver?

If you get into an accident with a speeding driver, you may immediately feel frustrated or even angry. After all, the driver’s reckless behavior caused the accident, and you may have ended up with serious damage. However, keeping your cool and handling the situation reasonably can make a huge difference in your ability to seek compensation for your injuries and the damage your vehicle sustained.

#1 Report the accident to the police immediately.

The speeding driver may try to convince you to just report the accident to his insurance company for compensation and avoid the police. Often, drivers speed because they need to rush to their destinations. Stopping for an accident further increases the time before the driver can get to his destination. If he can still drive his vehicle, he may try to convince you to avoid reporting the accident. He may even get in such a hurry that he drives away from the accident scene without stopping.

Regardless of the other driver’s actions or excuses, call the police to report the accident, and wait for the police to arrive. Never leave the accident scene without police permission unless you need immediate medical attention and can get to a medical care center yourself faster than an ambulance can arrive.

Let the police know what happened, including your observation of the other driver’s speed. The police can include that information in the police report.

#2 Take photos of the accident scene.

If you can safely move around the accident scene, and if you do not have injuries that will make worse, take the time to take a few photos of the accident scene.

You may want to take photos of the damage to both vehicles, the other driver’s vehicle make and model, and the other driver’s license plate. You can also exchange insurance information and take a photo of the other driver’s license, which can make it easier for you to later file a claim with that driver’s insurance. Furthermore, if you have obvious injuries from the accident, you may want to go ahead and snap a couple of pictures.

Do not put yourself in danger, or do anything that could worsen your injuries, to take those photos or collect evidence. The police will arrive at the scene soon and can help collect that vital evidence if needed.

#3 Get medical attention for any injuries or suspected injuries.

If you have clear signs of injuries, from severe lacerations to broken bones or head injury, you should get medical care immediately. If your accident involves serious property damage, have a doctor look you over to ensure that you did not sustain any serious injuries, even if you think you walked away with few issues. You may not notice serious injuries immediately after the accident, especially if adrenaline covers up any pain you would otherwise experience.

Immediate medical attention can prove critical, both medically and legally. The sooner you receive medical attention, the better the outcome in many personal injury cases. When the time comes to file a car accident claim for a speeding-related injury, a medical report that shows when your injuries occurred can make it easier for you to pursue compensation.

#4 Contact a lawyer for help managing a car accident claim.

If you suffer injuries in an accident with a speeding driver, you need an experienced car accident attorney to help you navigate your injury claim. Do not try to deal with the insurance company on your own if you sustained serious injuries. Instead, talk to a lawyer about the compensation you should expect, who bears liability for the accident, and how to move forward with a car accident claim. An attorney can also help you manage costly medical expenses following an accident with a speeding driver.

Did You Suffer Speeding Accident Injuries?

If you suffered injuries in an accident with a speeding driver, a personal injury attorney can help you learn more about your rights and your next steps. Speeding puts everyone in danger, and when that driver’s negligence causes an accident, you may deserve compensation. Talk to an attorney as soon as possible to learn more.

A.J. Bruning


I was born and raised to represent individuals who have been needlessly injured. I mean that literally. At a young age my father would tell me about the clients he was representing. I would meet them and take pride in their admiration of my father. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent clients that needed my help.

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