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What Percentage of Car Accidents Are Caused by Human Error?

car accident caused by human error

There are a number of different reasons why auto accidents occur, but the vast majority of them come down to an error on the part of one or more drivers or less frequently the negligence of a party that is not directly involved. According to a Stanford Law School report, at least 90% of all motor vehicle crashes are caused fully or in part by human error.

The exact percentage is debatable, and the report examined several studies that ranged anywhere between 90% and 99%. But regardless of which study is most accurate, it is clear that human error is an underlying factor in most car accidents.

The context of the Stanford report is a discussion about the comparative safety of self-driving cars. Advocates for these vehicles argue that a car that drives itself could eliminate the human error factor and thus vastly reduce the number of auto accidents. But automation involves human design and programming, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how safe self-driving vehicles really are.

Auto Accidents Caused by Driver Negligence

Of the 90+ percent of car accidents that are caused by human error, a large percentage of them result from some type of driver negligence. Some of the most common causes of driver-related auto accidents include:


Exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for conditions is one of the leading causes of vehicle accidents in the US. Speeding has become commonplace in our country, and people routinely drive at least five or 10 mph over the limit because they know they can get away with it in most areas. Speeding is a very dangerous practice, however, because the faster a motorist drives, the less time they have to react to adverse situations that may arise. In addition, collisions that happen at higher speeds tend to result in more severe injuries.

Aggressive/Reckless Driving

Speeding is one form of aggressive driving, and excessive speeding crosses the line into recklessness. There are many other driving behaviors that fit into this category as well, including tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, making sharp turns, illegal or dangerous passing maneuvers, and street racing. Dangerous practices like these greatly increase the risk of an auto accident.

Distracted Driving

Distractions have become another major source of danger on the roadways. These days, a lot of motorists have a hard time staying off of their cell phones. They try to read and respond to a quick text when they come up to a red light, or worse, they do this while they are in motion. Electronic messaging is an especially dangerous form of distracted driving, because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive engagement, and this takes the driver’s attention completely off of the road.

Drunk Driving

Driving while intoxicated has been a problem for a long time, and the effects of this behavior are well known. But despite several decades of high-profile public awareness campaigns, far too many people still make the foolish and often fateful decision to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.

Drowsy Driving

While not discussed as much as distracted driving and drunk driving, drowsy driving is a problem that affects a large number of Americans. Anyone who has not had enough sleep can become drowsy or fatigued while behind the wheel, but it is most common among those who drive for a living, those who work overnight and rotating shifts, and individuals with untreated sleep disorders.

Third Parties that May be Responsible for a Car Accident

Though not as common, there are some auto accident cases in which an outside party (other than the drivers involved) could be at fault. Examples include:

  • The employer of a commercial driver
  • The party responsible for maintaining a commercial vehicle
  • The manufacturer or distributor of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part

Injured in a Car Accident in Virginia? Speak with a Skilled and Knowledgeable Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered injury in an auto accident and it was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation. Before speaking with the insurance company, contact the law offices of Buck, Toscano & Terezkerz for a free consultation and case assessment. We will meet with you to review your case and advise you of your legal rights and options. To get started, message us online or call our office today at (434) 977-7977.

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