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Top 10 Driver Errors that Cause Vehicle Accidents, Injuries, and Fatalities in California

Car crashes are consistently one of the most common causes of accidental injuries. A motor vehicle collision can happen for a wide range of different reasons. That being said, “driver error” is cited as the primary cause of most crashes. According to data cited by the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, driver error is the main contributing factor to as many as 95% of collisions. In this article, our Los Angeles car accident lawyer highlights the top ten driver errors that cause accidents, injuries, and fatalities in Southern California.

10 Driver Errors


Year after year, speeding is one of the most common driver errors leading to motor vehicle collisions in California. Driving above the speed limit not only reduces the driver’s reaction time, it also increases the severity of collisions. The heightened force of impact at higher speeds can result in more serious damage and injuries. Speed is a factor in nearly 30% of deadly crashes.

Following Too Closely (Tailgating)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than half of multi-vehicle crashes are rear-end collisions. A significant share of these accidents are caused by rear-drivers following too closely. You may also hear this referred to as tailgating. It is a significant driver error that can lead to serious accidents and injuries.

Running Red Lights

Ignoring traffic signals and running red lights can lead to dangerous T-bone or side-impact collisions. Drivers who commit this error put both themselves and other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, at significant risk of injury or death. Even when a driver barely runs a red—meaning the sneak through at the last second—it can still cause a serious crash.

Running Stop Signs

Much like running red lights, failing to stop at stop signs is a serious error. The running of stop signs can result in collisions at intersections—especially where other drivers are not expecting cross-traffic. Notably, many pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents occur at stop signs.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. Some examples include using a cell phone, texting, and eating. Indeed, a distraction can be any other activity that diverts attention from driving. It is a major cause of accidents in California. Distracted driving is, by definition, a driver error.

Unsafe Merging

Unsafe merging onto highways or changing lanes without proper checking can easily result in side-swipe accidents. Drivers who fail to ensure the lane is clear or who do not use their signals make it difficult for other drivers to anticipate their actions. In California, the driver who is making the “merge” maneuver is generally the party who is responsible for a resulting collision.

Failure to Signal

Proper signaling is crucial. It is required under California law. Failure to signal is a driver error that can contribute to accidents. While failure to signal is a basic error, it can create serious risk, especially on busy roadways and fast-moving highways.

Abrupt Stops (Without Justification)

Abruptly stopping without a valid reason can catch following drivers off guard, leading to rear-end collisions. The error is particularly dangerous on high-speed roads where vehicles have less time to react to sudden stops. Of course, there are absolutely situations that require an abrupt stop. It is not always a driver error. That is why the rear driver should always leave sufficient space between their car and a front vehicle to make a stop even if abrupt braking is required.

Not Yielding for Pedestrians

Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents can result in serious injuries. Indeed. Pedestrians face some serious risks from traffic. A significant share of pedestrian collisions in California happen because motorists fail to properly yield the right-of-way. Failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks is a serious error and a violation of state and local traffic laws.

Intoxicated Driving

In some ways, it is a misnomer to call intoxicated driving an “error.” After all, both drunk driving and drugged driving are criminal violations in California. Still, the severe error in judgment to get behind the wheel while unlawfully intoxicated puts innocent people at serious risk.

Set Up a Free Consultation With Our California Car Crash Lawyer Today

At Personal Injury Legal Group, our Los Angeles auto accident attorney is a skilled, experienced, and justice-focused advocate for injured victims and their families. Call us now or contact us online for your no-cost, no-obligation consultation. With a law office in Los Angeles, we fight for the rights and interests of injured victims throughout all of Southern California.

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