What Are the Most Common Types of Car Accidents and How Do They Occur?

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The most recent data from the NHTSA shows that over 42,900 people died on American roads in 2021. This figure is the highest since 2005 and the highest year-to-year increase in fatalities since the NHTSA started collecting traffic fatality data.  

There are many types of accidents, but statistics show that some are more prevalent than others. Identifying the prevalence of the different types of accidents and how they occur is the first step to ensuring safety on the road.  

Below are the most common accidents and the circumstances under which they occur.  

Angle Collisions  

Angle collisions, also known as T-bone accidents, involve one vehicle hitting the other from the side. According to 2020 NHTSA data, T-bone collisions accounted for 23.6 percent of all accidents. While this was the second most prevalent accident, it accounted for a disproportionately high number of fatalities and injuries at 6,432 and 467,073, respectively.? 

T-bone accidents almost always occur at intersections when one vehicle fails to yield way or when a turning vehicle fails to use proper signals. Unfortunately, there is very little protection on the sides of a car, meaning vehicle occupants bear the full brunt of the impact and thus the high rate of fatalities in this type of accident.  

Collisions with Fixed Objects 

Collisions between two or more cars come to many people’s minds at the mention of a car accident. Surprisingly, collisions with fixed objects are a prevalent type of accident involving a vehicle running into a fixed object such as electric poles, guardrails, trees, or any other object.?  

In 2020, this type of accident accounted for 17.5% of all accidents, making it the third leading cause of road accidents in America. Fatalities from this type of accident were 10,949, the highest among all accidents. Collisions with fixed objects can occur for many reasons, including speeding, distracted driving, or vehicle malfunction.  

Rear-End Collisions 

Rear-end collisions are accidents that occur when a vehicle is struck from behind by a vehicle in the rear. According to NHTSA, rear-end collisions accounted for 27.8% of all accidents in 2020. Common causes of rear-end accidents include tailgating (following too closely), the lead car suddenly stopping, and aggressive driving.? 

The risk of getting into a rear-end accident increases with bad weather, such as during heavy rainfall or icy roads. To avoid causing a rear-end accident, ensure that you don’t follow too closely. Ideally, you should leave a two to three-second following distance between you and the car in front of you under normal conditions and up to six seconds in inclement weather. 

Head-On Collisions 

Head-on collisions rank high among the most dangerous types of accidents. While it accounted for 2.1 of all accidents, in 2020, it accounted for 10.2 percent of all fatalities. Head-on collisions happen when the bumpers of two vehicles moving in opposite directions come into contact.? 

The reason behind the high fatality rate for this type of accident is the force of impact. For instance, if two vehicles moving at a speed of 60mph get into a head-on collision, the energy released at impact will equal that of a vehicle moving at 120mph.  

Head-on collisions can occur for several reasons, such as distracted driving, dangerous overtaking on single-lane roads, and vehicle malfunction.  

Rollover Accidents  

Rollover accidents are the least prevalent type of accident on their list. According to 2020 statistics, rollover accounted for 1.6 percent of all accidents. However, this type of accident has a relatively high fatality rate accounting for 7.1 percent of all accidents.? 

Often, rollover accidents occur around bends, especially when a vehicle tries to navigate a bend at high speed, with adverse weather being an aggravating factor. Rollovers can also result from T-bone collisions.  

This content is provided by an independent source for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Consult an attorney or financial advisor when making decisions. This information is provided by legal writers and does not reflect the views or opinions of The Daily Sundial editorial staff.