Causes of Car Accidents

January 15, 2015 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
Causes of Car Accidents

We’re often asked about common causes of car accidents in North Carolina. Our personal injury lawyers have handled thousands of car accident cases across the state and we’ve seen many types of auto accidents over the years.

Causes of Car Accidents in North Carolina

Frequently, auto accidents occur due to the negligence of other drivers. However, negligence can involve many factors. Sometimes, drivers become distracted while texting or changing the radio causing a collision. Other times, drivers make dangerous decisions behind the wheel, such as speeding. Circumstances beyond human control, like weather, may also contribute to an accident.

Regardless of the cause, if a car crash is not your fault, you should be able to file a car accident claim to recover compensation for damages.

Common causes of car accidents include distracted driving, alcohol and drug use, driver fatigue, aggressive or reckless driving, and weather.

At Riddle & Brantley, our North Carolina car accident lawyers have decades of experience with car accidents throughout the state. Since 1985, we have obtained thousands of successful verdicts and settlements for victims of all types of car crashes (see disclaimer below). We have the resources and knowledge necessary to investigate all causes of car accidents and to hold all negligent parties accountable.

We can evaluate your claim and advise you on your best available legal options for pursuing justice and compensation.

Auto Accidents Caused by Driver Negligence

Across the United States there are over 6 million motor vehicle accidents each year. While improved safety features and stricter driving laws have led to a decrease in total accidents over the past few decades, new issues have also arisen, such as an increase in distracted driving.

For instance, in 2019 the DMV reported that 18.8% of accidents were caused by distracted driving. It’s also important to note that this study is based on self-reports, so the total number of accidents caused by distracted drivers could be much higher. Unfortunately, most of these car crashes are preventable when drivers practice safe, defensive driving techniques.

Some of the most common causes of car accidents include:

  • Aggressive or reckless driving
  • Construction zones
  • Distracted driving
  • Driver fatigue
  • Driving While Impaired (DWI)
  • Failing to obey traffic signs
  • Speeding
  • Lane changes (intended or not)
  • Other causes of car crashes

Aggressive or Reckless Driving

Aggressive or reckless driving occurs when an individual operates their vehicle in a manner which puts themselves and others at risk of becoming injured. Reckless driving is prohibited by North Carolina state law according to G. S. 20-140(a) and (b).

In 2019 12,200 accidents on NC roads were caused by reckless or aggressive driving. These individuals disregard traffic laws and the overall safety for all drivers on the roadway.

 Common behaviors exhibited by aggressive drivers include:

  • Tailgating
  • Careless driving
  • Frequent lane changes
  • Failing to yield right of way
  • Failing to use signals
  • Rude or aggressive gestures
  • Disregarding traffic signals

Construction Zone Accidents

The NC DOT states that in 2019 7,029 car accidents occurred in construction work zones. These construction zone accidents  often occur because of frequent changes to the area as well as unexpected obstacles. Negligent drivers may also speed and/or disobey temporary signs in these zones. Riddle & Brantley has helped both construction workers and drivers recover for their injuries sustained in construction zones.

In order to prevent accidents in construction zones, we recommend that drivers proceed with extreme caution. According to NCDOT speeding and distracted driving make up over 50% of all work zone related accidents.

Please remember to slow down and follow all signs and directions. Drivers should also be aware of construction vehicles moving and to and from the jobsite. These vehicles typically move more slowly than normal traffic, and may make stops.

Distracted Driving Accidents

Distracted driving continues to be one of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States. At one point or another everyone has been distracted while driving, however we may fail to recognize the dangers of not staying alert.

Common distractions for drivers include:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Using other forms of social media
  • Eating or drinking
  • Changing the radio
  • Updating the GPS
  • Talking with passengers
  • Interacting with pets

Similarly to other states, North Carolina has implemented laws against various forms of distracted driving. In NC, cell phone use is banned for school bus drivers as well as drivers under the age of 18. And texting while driving is illegal for all drivers.

Driver Fatigue

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that driver fatigue causes approximately 83,000 auto accidents every year. For instance, in 2017, 91,000 accidents occurred from drowsy driving.

Most of these accidents occur between 12am and 6am. Fatigue makes a driver less alert and decreases reactions speed, meaning that drowsy drivers are less able to act quickly to avoid a crash. Additionally, extreme fatigue may result in a driver falling asleep at the wheel.

A few signs that you may be affected by driver fatigue include:

  • Frequent yawning
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Varying driving speeds
  • Misjudging traffic situations
  • Increased fidgeting or irritability
  • Daydreaming

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is advised to pull your car over at the nearest location to avoid an accident.

Drunk Driving Accidents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, 29 people die each day from drunk driving. Under North Carolina law, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs  is called driving while impaired (DWI).

The use of drugs and alcohol significantly reduce a driver’s reaction time and focus. This leads to an enormous number of auto accidents, injuries, and deaths every year. These accidents can be avoided by simply designating a sober driver, calling a taxi or Uber, or using public transportation.

Failing to Obey Traffic Signals and Signs

Failing to obey traffic signs also causes many accidents, injuries, and deaths across the entire nation. In most cases, these individuals will be ticketed, fined, or penalized if they are caught. However, many drivers go unnoticed on our North Carolina roadways until it is too late.

Some common scenarios that contribute to missing traffic signs and lights include:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Blocking an intersection
  • Unsafe passing
  • Reckless driving
  • Running red lights
  • Failure to yield the right of way

Failing to obey traffic signals can result in serious repercussions, including injuries. Drivers must always pay attention to traffic lights and signs.


The NHTSA reported 9,378 speeding related fatalities across America in 2018. These accidents are especially dangerous because when drivers travel at higher speeds, they have less time to react.

Higher speeds also mean the driver has less control over the vehicle, which decreases a driver’s ability to maneuver around potential hazards.

Other Common Causes of Car Accidents

We've handle thousands of car accidents in North Carolina causes by many different factors involving driver negligence.

In rare cases, a car crash may result from uncontrollable circumstances. However, your own car insurance should cover the cost of your property damages that result from these auto accidents if you have full coverage.

Some common causes of car accidents not due to driver negligence include:

Animal crossings — Animal crossing areas are dangerous due to the fact that animals cannot not recognize the dangers posed by automobiles. Thus, if drivers are not paying attention for these animals, especially deer, a car accident may result. Animal crossing areas are common throughout the state, though they may be more familiar in more rural areas. Drive with high-beam headlights at night in order to spot animals more easily and avoid these kinds of collisions.

Bad weatherBad weather may consist of thunderstorms, hurricanes, windstorms, fog, hail, flash floods/ heavy rain and occasional snowstorms. These conditions can create many dangerous situations for drivers across our roadways by greatly reducing visibility and impairing the ability to properly control a vehicle.

Contact Our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Today

At Riddle & Brantley, our accident attorneys believe that negligent individuals must be held accountable for their actions. Justice counts, which means that car accident victims deserve compensation for all damages and losses they have suffered.

We have offices in Goldsboro, Raleigh, and Jacksonville and are also available by appointment only at our offices in Durham, Kinston, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Charlotte and Wilmington.

Riddle & Brantley proudly serves the great state of NC contact us today to discuss your legal options.

"They made a hard time in my life easier to endure."

-Melissa C., Riddle & Brantley client

Our attorneys all operate on a contingency fee basis. This means we will not charge attorney fees for any of our services unless we obtain a favorable verdict or settlement for you — and you receive compensation.

Justice Counts.

*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.