What Percentage of Car Accidents Are Caused by Human Error

What Percentage of Car Accidents Are Caused by Human Error?

Tens of thousands of individuals are killed in auto accidents each year. In fact, the Washington Post reported in 2019 that since the year 2000, more Americans have died in car crashes than in both world wars put together. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the US, accounting for more than one third of all teen fatalities. And car accidents also result in hundreds of thousands of long-term disabilities every year.

One of the saddest facts about car accidents is that most of them are preventable. A 2016 study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that human error accounts for anywhere between 94% to 96% of all auto accidents. Several other studies have produced similar results, and every study that we know of shows that the percentage of car accidents that are caused by human error is at least 90%.

In recent years, advocates of self-driving vehicles have used statistics like these to argue that if we eliminate the human element, our roads will be much safer. Self-driving cars have challenges of their own, however, and it will probably be a while before they become mainstream. But in the meantime, we need to do a better job of educating new and seasoned drivers alike to the common driving behaviors that increase the likelihood of an accident.

Common Car Accidents that are Caused by Driver Error


In America, it is common practice among a large percentage of drivers to regularly exceed the speed limit, even if it is just by five or 10 mph. Motorists know that in a lot of places, they will not get a ticket unless they are going at least 10 mph over the limit, so they push the boundaries of what they can get away with. But just because a lot of people do it, however, that does not mean it is safe. There is a reason for the speed limits we have, and when we are driving too fast, it gives us a lot less time to react and avoid an accident when adverse road conditions arise.

Aggressive/Reckless Driving

Speeding is one form of aggressive driving that increases the likelihood of a car accident. There are many other ways that motorists drive aggressively as well. These include tailgating, making sharp turns, speeding through a yellow light, illegal or dangerous passing maneuvers, and many others. Sometimes, aggressive driving crosses the line into recklessness, which only increases the dangers of a vehicle accident.

Distracted Driving

Our digital age has heightened the risk of accidents that are caused by distracted driving. While motorists have always had distractions, texting and other forms of electronic messaging bring this hazard to a whole new level. When someone is sending or reading an electronic message, they are distracted manually, visually, and cognitively, which means their focus is taken completely away from the road where it belongs.

Chemical Impairment

It is well-known that driving while intoxicated greatly increases the chances of getting into an accident. Alcohol and various types of drugs can make a motorist sleepy and slow their reaction times, or it can have the opposite effect and put them into a state of mind where they have willful and wanton disregard for the rules of the road and the safety of others.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy and fatigued driving is not talked about as much as other forms of dangerous driving, but it is far more common than most people realize. A National Sleep Foundation study found that nearly half of all Americans have driven while they were drowsy. 20% admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel during the past year, and 40% say that this has happened at least once since they have been driving.

In addition to drivers, there are several other parties whose negligence or recklessness could contribute to a car accident. These may include:

  • Vehicle passengers
  • Employers of a commercial driver
  • The manufacturer or distributor of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part
  • The party in charge of maintaining the roadways

Injured in a Car Accident in Pittsburgh? Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Legal Help

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a vehicle crash, chances are it was caused by some type of human error. If this is the case, you may have a right to compensation. For a free consultation to assess your case and find out what your legal options are, call Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman today at 412-567-1232 or toll-free at 866-466-5789. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.