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What Are the Most Common Types of Car Accidents?

Home > Blog > What Are the Most Common Types of Car Accidents?

Motor vehicle accidents happen every day, and they can change your life forever. Dealing with an auto accident is never easy, and the recovery process from personal injuries can take quite a while. Dealing with insurance companies makes it even more difficult, as their entire business model depends on them denying you as much coverage as possible. That is why the best approach to car accidents is to try and avoid them altogether.

Accidents are often caused by driver error and are easy to avoid if the driver simply pays better attention to the road. If you get involved in an accident, a car accident lawyer at HawkLaw, P.A. can offer support in moving forward while you focus on recovery. Hopefully, however, you can simply avoid car accidents by learning about the most common types of accidents that occur on the road in South Carolina.

Why Is Distracted Driving the No. 1 Cause of Accidents?

Distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents largely because so many different actions can qualify as distractions. Whether you are arguing with a passenger, having a casual conversation, or reading a billboard, you are technically distracted behind the wheel. Of course, the most common kind of distracted driving these days stems from the use of electronic devices like cell phones while driving. 

When you look at a billboard or glance at a passenger, you probably take your eyes off the road for about a second or two, if that. If you stop to read a text, however, you are likely taking your eyes off the road for around five seconds, and so much can happen within that timeframe. With that long of a distraction, you may not be aware of upcoming road and traffic conditions that you would otherwise be able to avoid with normal reaction time.

Plenty of drivers erroneously believe that they are good at multitasking behind the wheel. The reality is that no one is good at multitasking anywhere. The brain is physiologically incapable of doing so. What people think of as multitasking is really performing several singular tasks at a time in small intervals, which is also known as micro-tasking.

Which Age Group Is Considered the Most Distracted Driver?

The most distracted drivers are going to be beginner drivers, which usually means teenagers. In fact, drivers from ages 16-19 are more at risk of auto accidents than any other age group to the point where the second leading cause of death for teens in America is car crashes. Hundreds of thousands of teens undergo treatment in emergency departments for motor vehicle crash injuries every year, and a few thousand of those become fatalities.

Teens often get involved in driving accidents because they do not understand that multitasking behind the wheel is not possible. Using a phone while driving and turning around to talk to someone in the back seat are serious distractions that prevent drivers from focusing on the road. 

What Are the Most Common Types of Car Accidents?

It is possible to avoid just about any kind of car accident by adopting best practices like driving strategically, eliminating distractions, avoiding drowsy driving, and taking care not to drive under the influence of alcohol. Still, certain accident types have unique measures you can take for prevention. The most common types of car accidents on the road and how to avoid them are as follows:

Rear-End Collisions

A rear-end collision is one in which a vehicle hits the back of another vehicle. These incidents can result from a number of different scenarios, but there are a few best practices to implement to avoid them. Keep a space cushion between you and the vehicle in front of you, with three seconds being a good rule of thumb. Tailgating only increases the risk of a collision.

Single-Vehicle Damage

A single-vehicle damage accident is one in which only a single car suffers damage. These accidents typically involve collisions with road barriers, animals, or debris and may include certain rollover and off-road accidents. To avoid these, consider the weather and your speed. Adjust accordingly to account for driving conditions like wet roads, and keep your vehicle under the posted speed limit.

Parked Car Damage

Hitting a parked car can cause damage to both vehicles, but there are some steps that you can take to avoid this. Try to use the less busy parts of a parking lot and walk the distance to where you are going. Additionally, park your vehicle in the middle of the space to be sure no part of it is sticking out or situated at an odd angle.

Accidents at Intersections

Intersections are a common spot for accidents, and distracted drivers are most often the cause. To prevent accidents at intersections, keep a close eye on signs and traffic signals. Even if you have the right of way with a green light, go ahead and look across the intersection for other drivers who may have missed a red light or are making improper turns. At a yellow light, it is always better to be cautious rather than speed up unnecessarily.

What Types of Accidents Are Road and Weather Related?

Both road conditions and weather conditions can contribute to car accidents.

Road Conditions

Road conditions, like potholes, can cause trouble for drivers. When the choice is to hit a pothole head-on or swerve into a lane of oncoming traffic, many motorists are unsure of what to do. Driving around potholes is always preferable, but if there is traffic, it is generally better to slow down rather than go into the other lane. Be sure to keep an eye out for animal crossings as well, and keep your high beams on in rural areas that typically have a higher volume of larger animals like deer and bears.

Weather Conditions

A variety of bad weather conditions can make an accident more likely to occur even when doing something like simple lane changes. Both wet pavement from rain and the rain itself contribute to several accidents, but that is just the beginning. Snow and sleet along with ice can make your vehicle harder to control, especially since South Carolina is not typically equipped to prepare snowy roads safely. Fog is another bad weather condition that can be dangerous. Remember to not use your brights in fog, as doing so actually makes it harder to see because of the light bouncing back at you off the fog particles.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents?

Quite a few different causes of car accidents are common. Most of them are due to human error, but some are factors that drivers have no control over. The top causes of car accidents include the following:

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving includes any kind of driving in which the driver is not entirely focused on the road, such as when they are looking at their phone or looking at their passenger.


Going over the speed limit increases the likelihood of an accident, and collisions at high speeds can increase the damage of an accident and lead to serious injuries.

Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence is never a good idea for any reason. Besides avoiding a DUI yourself, you should also look for signs of drunk drivers on the road, such as swerving, and stay away.


Teenagers are more likely to get into accidents due to their lack of experience behind the wheel.

Wrong-Way Driving

Driving on the wrong side of the road is always dangerous and may be the result of someone not knowing what the road signs mean or not noticing a median when turning left.

Vehicle Defects

Vehicle defects like a faulty brake system can cause serious problems that the driver simply cannot control.


Weather conditions like rain, snow, and fog can make driving more difficult.

Road Conditions

Road conditions like potholes and animals darting onto the roadway can cause damage to vehicles even in a single-vehicle auto accident.

What Happens If You Get Into an Accident With a Vehicle That Has Been Recalled?

Liability in traffic accidents considers the expectation that the driver is duty-bound to practice safe driving standards in accordance with the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Those standards include proper maintenance. If a recall notice is present, safe driving dictates that the driver should get the recall taken care of as soon as possible. If they refuse to, they could be legally responsible, or at least partly responsible, for any accident that occurs.

How Can You Reduce the Risk of a Car Accident?

Car accidents can be tragic and life-changing, but the mistakes of others can teach us all how to be safer in the future. Here is how you can reduce the risk of an accident while driving:

Wear Your Seatbelt

Always buckle up no matter how far you have to go. If you are driving to your mailbox at your home or apartment complex, it is still a good idea to buckle up.

Limit Your Passengers

More passengers means more potential distractions. If you do have to carry several passengers, make sure they know not to distract you.

Avoid Night Driving If Possible

Limited visibility makes it harder to see potential accidents incoming as well as signage like stop signs and crossroads. Additionally, drowsy driving may be a bigger risk during the night.

Practice Safe Driving

Safe driving includes defensive driving (which is not aggressive driving), obeying the speed limit and all traffic laws, and getting proper maintenance on your vehicle. Think of it as the opposite of reckless driving.

Do Not Use Your Cellphone

Phones are significant distractions, so keep your texting and calling to times when you are not behind the wheel.

Looking to Avoid Being in a Car Accident?

The best way to approach car accidents is to avoid them altogether. If you do find yourself in a collision, however, you will need a reputable South Carolina law firm to help you through the aftermath and take care of legal matters so you can focus on your recovery.

Request a free consultation* by calling 888-HAWKLAW or filling out our online contact form. HawkLaw Fights to Win!

John D. Hawkins

Founder and CEO

John Hawkins is the Founder and CEO of HawkLaw He has been licensed to practice law in South Carolina since his graduation with honors in 1994 from the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was on the Law Review and Order of Wig and Robe.

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