What Causes California Car Crashes?

There are things California drivers do well and things we could improve upon in the quest to reduce traffic fatalities to zero. The California Highway Patrol deals with car and truck accidents every day. They fill out accident reports and interview drivers and sometimes witnesses. They understand factors that are common to crashes. A CHP officer recently discussed the top five causes of California traffic accidents. Understanding what causes accidents should inform drivers what they need to be careful to avoid if they want to stay safe.

Before we get to the causes of accidents, there is one piece of good news to share. According to CHP data, Californians wear seat belts at a rate significantly better than the national average. More than 96 percent of drivers and passengers in this state buckle up. The national average is 85 percent. There are few things you can do to better improve your chances of surviving a car accident than wear a seat belt.

As for the causes of accidents, the top five include:

  • Fatigued drivers
  • Drunk drivers
  • Aggressive drivers
  • Speeding drivers
  • Distracted drivers

Speeding is the cause of nearly 30 percent of traffic accidents in California. Distracted driving is harder to pin down, but the types of accidents expected from distracted drivers are among the most common incidents on California roads.

Most car and truck accidents are caused by driver error and are easily avoided. The right mindset can eliminate several of the top causes of traffic accidents. While fatigued and impaired driving involve conduct that occurs before you get behind the wheel, aggressive driving, driving too fast and distracted driving involve conduct that most people, even regular offenders, agree is dangerous. Your goal in driving should be to get from point A to point B safely.

Source: KSBY, “C.H.P. Top 5 reasons for vehicle crashes in California,” by Charlie Misra, 26 February 2015