The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported over 5 million car accidents in the United States in 2020, including 38,824 traffic-related deaths, the highest fatality count since 2007.
Studying and analyzing accident data collected by NHTSA and other reporting bodies can help identify the high-risk groups and the causes of accidents, among other identifiers, to take measures to prevent such incidences.
Which age group contributes to most car accidents? What caused the accident? Which gender is more susceptible to car crashes? Although studying accident statistics is not fun, it is crucial to identify the causes of the problem and introduce solutions on a federal level to combat them.
Here, we will explore who is responsible for most car accidents in the United States. The article will review car accident statistics pertaining to age group, gender, driving behavior, and lifestyle choices. To aid us in the results, we looked at several bona fide Los Angeles car accident attorney websites and culled our information from the top search results.
What Age Group Causes More Car Accidents?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 258,000 teens suffered injuries, and 2,400 died in fatal car accidents in 2019 alone. Teenagers aged between 16 and 19 are three times more likely to get involved in a car accident than drivers of older age groups. The risk increases exponentially when other teenagers or young adults accompany teen drivers.
When looking at the breakup of accident statistics among teenage drivers, we can deduce that male teen drivers ages 16 to 19 had a two times higher motor vehicle death rate than female teenage drivers.
A National Household Travel Survey, 2016 – 2017, identified that teen drivers aged 16 have an exceptionally high crash risk, 1.5 times per mile driven, compared to 18 to 19-year-old drivers.
One of the leading causes of car accidents among teenage drivers is inexperience, and they tend to underestimate dangerous situations and make errors during critical decisions.
Are Male Drivers Involved in More Car Accidents than Female Drivers?
Data from the US Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System suggest that more men die in car accidents than females. Between 1975 and 2020, more than twice the number of male crash deaths occurred each year than female crashes. However, that gap has now narrowed down.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported 13,153 male and 5,091 female crash deaths in 2020 compared to 15,706 male and 3,642 female crash fatalities in 1975. In 2020, male drivers contributed to 72% of all motor vehicle crash deaths.
Men receive more traffic violations and DUI charges and are involved in a higher number of car accidents than women. However, men also drive 40% more miles per year on average than women, which increases their likelihood of getting into an accident.
Crashes involving male drivers are much more severe than those involving female drivers. IIHS reports that male drivers are likelier to drive recklessly and without wearing seatbelts.
More women have drivers’ licenses than men, but what’s surprising is that women drivers have a fewer chance of surviving an accident involving male drivers. Men tend to buy large vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks, while women prefer to drive small economical cars. An impact with a large vehicle can result in devastating and fatal injuries.
What Driving Behavior Causes More Car Accidents?
There are many causes of traffic-related accidents in the United States, but most crashes occur due to negligence or error on the part of one or more drivers.
According to NHTSA February 2015 Traffic Safety Facts Crash Stats report, 94% of all car crashes occur due to driver errors.
Let’s discuss some of the common causes of driver-related auto accidents.
Between 2010 and 2019, NHTSA reported, on average, 3,000 deaths in crashes involving distracted drivers. In 2019, 3,100 people died, while 424,000 suffered injuries in car accidents resulting from distracted driving. About 20% (one in five) of the deaths involved people who were not in vehicles, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
Distracted driving includes:
- Changing the radio settings.
- Talking on the phone.
- Arguing with the passenger.
- Eating food while behind the wheel.
For more than three decades, speeding has been contributing to about one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. In 2020, speeding was the main factor in 29% of all road accidents, resulting in 11,258 deaths in the United States.
Speeding is a grave problem. During the Covid-19 pandemic, although the number of accidents reduced, the severity of the crashes increased significantly, resulting in more deaths. Due to the lower traffic volumes on the road, as many decided to stay at home, drivers were found speeding and driving recklessly.
Speeding affects not only the drivers but everyone around them, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and even law enforcement officers. It is a severe problem that the US Department of Transportation must aim to solve.
When a driver is speeding, they are breaking the law and also facing far-ranging consequences, including:
- Increased risk of severe crashes
- Losing vehicle control
- Reduced effect of vehicle safety protection equipment
- Increased stopping distance
- Financial costs of a crash
- Increased fuel consumption.
Alcohol impairs brain functions and affects the user’s motor skills, which are essential in safely operating a vehicle. Alcohol consumption is directly proportional to the adverse effects on an individual’s central nervous system.
According to the NHTSA, about 30% of all accidents involve drunk driving, and in 2020, it resulted in 11,654 deaths. Between 2011 and 2020, 10,500 people died on average annually in drunk driving crashes.
Across all states, driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants is illegal, yet one person dies every 45 minutes because of DUI. The minimum BAC limit varies depending on your residing state and the type of vehicle you’re driving. However, an officer can detain or arrest a driver even if their intoxication is lower than the state’s minimum BAC level.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that eight out of ten drivers demonstrate aggressive driving behavior. Road rage, a term dubbed in the 1990s when the country saw a rise in aggressive driving cases, includes tailgating, yelling, or honking and contributes to about half of all fatal accidents in the US.
Over a period of seven years, road rage resulted in 218 murders and 12,610 injuries. Speeding and alcohol are the leading causes of deaths arising from aggressive driving. The latest AAA survey suggests male drivers are more likely to exhibit road rage than females, and drivers between 25 to 39 exhibit road rage behaviors.
Drowsy driving is a bigger problem on the roads than you would think. The National Sleep Foundation reported, on average, 6,400 traffic deaths involving drowsy drivers, a serious public health concern. Drivers between the ages of 16 to 25 are at a higher risk of falling asleep behind the wheel than other age groups.
According to the NHTSA, police report over 100,000 crashes yearly due to drowsy driving, resulting in over 71,000 injuries and more than $12.5 million in damages. However, the government statistics substantially underestimate the true extent of the problem in the country. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report suggests 328,000 drowsy driving crashes annually.
The National Safety Council compares drowsy driving to DUI, stating that the effects of drowsy driving are similar to driving under the influence; decreased reaction times and an increased likelihood of crashes due to impairment. Identifying fatigue or sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea, can be challenging, resulting in serious car accidents.
There are ways an individual can prevent drowsy driving, and these include:
- Crash avoidance technologies
- University interventions
- Getting more sleep
- New medication labels
- Workplace training.
Besides the top 5 causes of traffic accidents mentioned above, other reasons include:
- Poorly maintained roads
- Traffic light violations
- Driving rules violations
- Vehicle defects
- Harsh weather conditions
- Inadequate driving experience and knowledge of the roadway.
Failing to obey the speed limit almost always seems to play a role, even among the mature adult population. Sometimes people think they had the right of way when they did not, even at a valid turn signal, or a stop sign. Less experience is definitely a big cause of trouble, but we all must learn to drive, even ride motorcycles sometimes, right?
Do Lifestyle Choices Affect Car Accident Rates?
You may doubt that lifestyle choices can affect the likelihood of accidents, but it is a reality as insurance companies consider using demographics when determining insurance rates.
- Insurers see stockbrokers as individuals pursuing risk in their careers and may also make risky decisions while behind the wheel. The insurance rate for stockbrokers may be higher than that of a scientist or other professional.
- Although rural drivers are more likely to get involved in a car accident due to higher speed limits and poorly maintained roads, insurers charge urbanites more, as 80% of all reported car accidents occur in urban areas. So location appears to be a contributing factor in these personal injury claims involving other vehicles.
- Individuals holding a degree or a Ph.D. have a lower insurance rate than those with a GED because insurers believe they are more likely to understand the risks associated with reckless driving and therefore are more cautious while on the road.
- Although it may seem discriminatory, insurers charge married people less than unmarried as they see single individuals as risky drivers. In 2004, a study involving 10,525 adults found that unmarried people have twice the risk of driver injury than those married, even with fewer miles driven.
Involved in a Car Accident? Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer
Do you want full and fair compensation from the other drivers who caused your car accident? Are you the victim of aggressive drivers now refusing to cover you with their auto insurance? You may be a careful driver and follow all traffic rules, but others may not. No matter how careful you are, you may end up in a severe auto accident affecting your life ultimately. In such situations, accident victims must reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer.
Although speaking to an attorney may not change the past, it can improve your future outlook following a car accident. A skilled attorney will help assess your case and inform you of any compensation you might receive if you were to pursue legal action. Speaking to an attorney won’t cost you a dollar, as many car accident attorneys offer a free consultation to accident victims, including senior drivers in auto wrecks.