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What Percentage of Car Accidents Are Caused by Human Error?

When you get behind the wheel of your car every day, you feel confident about your ability to drive safely and reach your destination. Without this assumption, roads across the United States would be empty every day. However, a shocking amount of people consistently underestimate their driving skills and experience. Once you find out how many car accidents are caused by driver error, you may choose to keep your distance from other drivers.

Causes of Car Crashes

One of the primary agencies that conducts research on roadway and driver safety is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In a study looking at critical reasons of car accidents, they found that 94% of car accidents are caused by drivers. Vehicles, environmental factors, and other unknown reasons are responsible for 2% of crashes each.

Within the category of driver-caused crashes, there are several additional categorizations, including recognition errors, decision errors, and performance errors.

Recognition Errors

Recognition errors are those caused by a driver failing to identify, see, or recognize an obstacle or change in road conditions. If a driver fails to pay attention to the road, is distracted while driving, or isn’t properly watching conditions around them, a recognition error could cause a crash.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a substantial amount of fatal crashes are caused by recognition errors. About 5.7% of fatal crashes are caused by distracted drivers.

Decision Errors

If a driver is properly watching the road and the conditions around them but does not properly assess the safety of a specific choice, they could be guilty of a decision error. Common decision errors include:

  • Driving too fast for weather conditions
  • Misconstruing others’ actions
  • Performing illegal maneuvers
  • Misjudging other drivers’ speed
  • Misjudging distance between cars
  • Driving too fast around a curve

These are significant factors in many fatal crashes. Per the III, nearly 17% of fatal crashes are caused by driving too fast for conditions or driving higher than is legally permitted. Failure to yield right of way is responsible for more than 7% of fatal crashes and failing to obey traffic signals or signs causes another 4% of fatal accidents.

Performance Errors

Performance errors are those caused by actual physical mistakes made by drivers. Again, these are separate from decision errors, which are errors in judgment. Performance errors occur when you recognize a threat, properly assess it, but err in your physical execution. Examples include poor directional control and overcompensation.

Overcorrecting causes 3.5% of fatal car crashes in the United States and failure to stay in proper lane causes more than 7% of fatal accidents.

Accounting for Human Error After a Car Crash

After a car accident, no one wants to accept blame. The driver who caused the crash may claim that they did the right thing to avoid a crash and allege that their car malfunctioned. They may indicate that unclear road signage caused the crash. These situations are quite rare. Remember, research indicates that about 94% of accidents can be traced back to human error.

This is one reason that we always recommend speaking to a personal injury attorney after a car accident.  No matter how apologetic the other party is or how much they vow to change their driving habits in the future, they absolutely must be held accountable for the errors they made that led to your injuries. A personal injury attorney can investigate your accident, figure out how the other driver erred in their judgment or perception, and ensure that they are held accountable for your injuries, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.

Call Us for Help with Your Car Accident Claim

Have you been injured in a car accident? If you have, you need to act quickly to get the compensation you deserve and avoid being taken advantage of by insurance companies. The team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey P.C. has handled countless car accident cases, and we are fiercely dedicated to making sure every client gets what they deserve. If you or someone you love has been in a car accident caused by someone else, we are here to help. Fill out our contact form or call us at 251-260-3815 to set up a consultation.