What causes car accident fatalities?

Top causes of traffic fatalities include failure to wear seat belts, alcohol-impaired driving, driving too fast for conditions and driving distracted.

From fender benders to multiple vehicle crashes, drivers in Los Angeles accept that traffic accidents are a risk so common, they are practically a way of life. In fact, commuters may check radio, television or smartphone apps for information about congestion on the roadways before beginning their daily trips to work. Regardless of the frequency of crashes, the behaviors of many seem to indicate that drivers assume they only happen to other people.

Lack of restraint

Every year, vehicle manufacturers design new and improved safety features to prevent collisions and protect people when they do happen. However, simply putting on a seat belt may be one of the best ways to avoid dying in a car wreck. Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's 2014 Crash Data, nearly half of the country's 21,022 passenger vehicle crash fatalities that year were not wearing any restraint.

Alcohol impairment

People who want another easy way to stay alive while they travel from point A to point B should never drink alcohol and then get behind the wheel. Nearly one-third of the deaths - 31 percent - involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit of .08 percent.

According to Reuters, drivers whose BAC is .01 to .07 percent may not be breaking the law, but they are still putting themselves and others at risk. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, discovered that a higher BAC does correspond with a higher risk of a crash, but even a driver with a .01 percent BAC has a 46 percent higher chance of being responsible for a crash than someone who has not drunk any alcohol.


Some people joke that the speed limit is a speed suggestion. California statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that driving too fast for conditions is no laughing matter. In 2014, more than 32 percent of the fatal crashes were speed related.


Distraction.gov points out that whether a driver is looking at scenery, the vehicle's air conditioner controls or a smartphone, the resulting distraction can have the same disastrous effect. However, when sending and receiving messages and phone calls, a driver is more likely to stop thinking about driving altogether while taking at least one hand off the wheel and looking away from the road. During the five seconds it takes to send the average text, the vehicle could travel the length of a football field on the highway without the driver seeing a single change in the road or traffic cue.

The implications of all the crash data are clear: Most traffic deaths are preventable. The loss of a loved one because of a collision is often sudden and can leave a person emotionally shattered. Hiring an attorney who can hold the responsible driver liable will not change that, but it may alleviate the financial stress of the situation, covering medical and funeral expenses, lost support and other damages.