Common Causes of Car Accidents in CA

July 8, 2022 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff

Common Causes of Car Accidents in CA

There are an infinite number of reasons a car accident might occur. Crashing a vehicle is a potential risk we sign up for every time we put our foot on the gas. Still, driving has become so necessary in some areas we cannot avoid it. 

Driving defensively and adhering to the rules of the road help prevent some car accidents, but others are more complicated. No matter how cautious you are, timing is everything.

You may be entitled to compensation if you sustain an injury in a California car accident because of someone else’s negligence. Check with a Bakersfield auto accident attorney to see if another person caused your pain.

20 Common Car Accident Causes in CA 

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is the most common cause of collisions in the U.S. and California. When someone driving a vehicle takes their eyes off the road, they endanger other drivers. This could be because the driver was eating, texting, talking on the phone, using the radio, or anything else that takes their attention away from driving. Teens are especially vulnerable to the growing number of mobile devices used while driving. Even tampering with a cell phone for just a moment can be enough to cause a severe accident. 

Driving Too Fast

Drivers who ignore the speed limit are not endangering everybody else; they also put themselves at a higher risk. Speeding is often viewed as the leading cause of traffic fatalities in California because the accidents become much more severe as the speed increases. The speed limit ensures you can properly deal with other aspects of the road (tight curves, pedestrians, stop signs). In certain conditions, you may also need to drive below the speed limit to maintain a safe environment for yourself and other drivers.

Drunk Driving

Drunk driving accidents are among the easiest to prevent. Alcohol directly inhibits the reaction time of the person who consumed it. Drinking also makes it more difficult to focus and alters decision-making abilities. A car is a dangerous machine, and intoxicated people cannot drive with attention to detail. If you intend to drink, have a designated driver.   

Driving on Drugs

Along with alcohol, there are a multitude of other substances that can impair your driving abilities. Barbiturates and painkillers can make you sleepy; hallucinogens can cause you to see things; marijuana can slow your reflexes and decision-making. No matter the drug, operating a motor vehicle without complete body control puts you and those around you at risk. 

Driving While Tired

Drowsy driving has been likened to drunk driving because it slows reaction time and impairs judgment. Don’t risk it if you’re tired, it’s late, or you can’t stay focused behind the wheel for any other reason. Pull over to rest or designate driving to someone else (who is more awake). 

Reckless Driving

Reckless drivers are often impatient and aggressive, making them easier to spot. If you see somebody driving recklessly, give them room and take extra precautions. Attempting to aggravate or impede an aggressive driver may result in a severe accident or road rage. Police will pull over anyone speeding, tailgating, or breaking other traffic laws. 

Ignoring Signals and Signs

Intersections are often a hotbed for car accidents. Traffic lights and stop signs prevent collisions, but they don’t work when people ignore them—not stopping when they are supposed to could lead to side-impact accidents, which are some of the most dangerous. Even when you are clear to proceed at a green light, you should remain vigilant in case another driver looks like they will run their red. 

Road Rage

A driver may become enraged and drive aggressively at times. Though they are usually triggered by another driver’s mistake, their reaction is not justified. Road rages might try to tailgate or pass the other driver only to brake in front of them. Accidents caused by road rage help no one and solve nothing.  

Inexperienced Drivers

Inexperienced driving is one cause of accidents that are not always the driver’s fault. This often refers to teens who recently got their license and might not yet be comfortable driving. It can also apply to older drivers unfamiliar with new road or road rules. These individuals, like a reckless driver, may be easy to spot. Allow plenty of space and take extra precautions when driving near them.

Night Driving

Driving in the dark is dangerous for a variety of reasons. At night, it’s less busy, so people go faster. More animals are attempting to cross the road, and it’s becoming more challenging to see them from afar. Limited visibility can make it difficult to respond to road obstacles and turns. People get tired and may fall asleep as it gets later. Drunk drivers are more likely to drive at night. Driving at night is sometimes unavoidable; keep these additional risks in mind before getting behind the wheel. 

Mechanical Issues

Sometimes even if the driver follows the rules, they may find themselves in a dangerous situation due to a vehicle malfunction. Automobiles are made with hundreds of parts–if any are defective, it could lead to a serious accident. Even if the manufacturing was good, specific components must be maintained regularly to keep it safe. Get your car checked frequently to ensure it is still in working condition.  

Lane Changes

It’s not a rare occasion to change lanes. Whether merging on the highway or getting into the proper turn lane, changing over can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Make sure to use your blinkers and check your blind spots. If somebody doesn’t look like they will let you in, don’t force it. Better late than never. 

Driving the Wrong Way

It seems straightforward, but there are still times when an individual might cross into the oncoming lane or go the wrong way on a one-way street. These are dangerous because they almost always result in head-on collisions or somebody swerving off the road. 

Illegal Turns

Certain turns are prohibited to avoid drivers going in the wrong direction. Others are not permitted to keep the flow of traffic. Always follow road signs and observe who has the right-of-way before proceeding.


Tailgating is the practice of driving very close to another driver’s back bumper. Tailgating at high speeds could mean you have less than one second to respond to the actions of the driver in front of you. You could not avoid a collision if they had to slam on the brakes. 

Weather Conditions

When people think of Southern California, they rarely think of bad weather, which is why it can be dangerous. Roadways and cars are not built to handle certain conditions, and drivers may not have as much experience on slippery roads. These factors combine to make the occasional rain or wind storm more dangerous than it might be elsewhere.

Improper Road Maintenance

While nicer weather might mean fewer potholes, there are still plenty of areas in California where the street needs work. Maintaining a vehicle’s control over particular terrain may be complicated whether it’s a result of construction or the road has been damaged. Proceed with caution and keep an eye on the drivers around you. If you know of a large crack or dangerous hole in the road, contact the proper authorities and issue a complaint to fix it. 

Tire Issues

If you are driving and experience a tire issue, you may lose control of your vehicle. Whether your tire isn’t properly aligned, is filled to the wrong pressure, or goes flat while moving, get to a safe area as soon as possible and address the issue. 

Dangerous Curves

Sometimes the road is constructed in a way that puts drivers at risk. Tight turns have limited visibility, and people who travel daily tend to go slightly faster and drift into the other lane. If two drivers come around the curve too fast simultaneously, they might not see each other in time to avoid an accident.  


Many of our road systems run directly through areas where animals live and travel frequently. Some creatures can move quickly, and if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you might not be able to avoid them. Your car could be totaled if you hit a large animal like a deer.

It would be best if you constantly scanned for animals that might want to cross.

Also, remember that sometimes, the more severe crash comes when a driver tries to avoid hitting an animal by swerving or slamming the brakes. Depending on your speed and surrounding traffic, the safest option may be to hit a smaller animal.

Hire an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer to Maximize Your Settlement

You will be unable to seek compensation from a liable party in some of the cases mentioned above. A raccoon will not have the money to repair your front bumper. 

In other cases, however, you may be entitled to compensation if you are injured as a result of the negligence of another person. This could be another driver, the entity in charge of road conditions, a manufacturer, or something else. 

If your injury resulted from negligence–meaning it could’ve been prevented with the proper care–reach out to a car accident lawyer to help build your case.