What are the most Common Causes of Car Accidents?

Car driving at high speeds through street

Causes of Car Accidents

Based in Virginia Beach and serving all of the Tidewater region, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C., has handled motor vehicle accidents in the community and beyond for more than 30 years. Our team is committed to protecting your legal rights and aggressively pursuing what you need to recover after an accident. 

If you were involved in a Virginia Beach car accident, determining the accident’s cause is an essential part of seeking compensation. To find out how we can help determine the actual cause of your crash, contact us to discuss your claim in a free consultation.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in Virginia Beach?

There are often several factors that contribute to the cause of a crash. The following list contains some of the most common and dangerous factors we see in Virginia Beach car accidents:

Distracted driving

Modern technologies such as GPS devices, built-in dash displays, and ever-present cell phones are all potential distractions that can seriously compromise driver safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 9 percent of all fatal crashes in one recent year involved distracted drivers. In addition to technology use, behaviors like eating, personal grooming, and interacting with passengers are other frequent sources of driver distraction.

Driving under the influence

Drugs and alcohol don’t mix with heavy machinery, especially when that machinery is traveling at high speeds. Unfortunately, drunk and drugged driving incidents are responsible for thousands of fatalities and severe injuries every year. Many of the victims of these accidents are innocent people who just happened to be on the road at the wrong time.

Reckless driving

Everyone on the road has places to be, but some drivers allow their impatience to spill over into reckless and dangerous driving behavior. Reckless drivers speed, tailgate, and weave between lanes with little regard for their safety or the safety of others. Here in Virginia, reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor offense that can result in stiff penalties, including jail time. It can also make a reckless driver liable for a crash.

Fatigued/drowsy driving

Drivers can become fatigued behind the wheel due to medication side effects, health conditions, or simple lack of sleep. Driving while drowsy is not safe, and fatigue is a significant contributing factor in many traffic accidents. According to NHTSA data, more than 50,000 injuries and nearly 800 fatalities were associated with drowsy driving in a single recent year. 


Many people think it’s not a big deal to exceed posted speed limits. However, speed limits exist for a reason. Drivers who exceed them endanger their own lives, the lives of their passengers, and those of everyone else on the road. Not only does speeding increase the likelihood of a crash, but it can also make the resulting injuries significantly worse.


When drivers follow the vehicles ahead of them too closely, they don’t leave themselves enough space or reaction time to brake safely in the event of a short stop. Tailgating frequently causes rear-end accidents that result in whiplash, spinal cord injuries, fractured bones, and worse. To stay safe on the road, be sure to leave at least three seconds of following distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you.

Poor weather/road conditions

Drivers caught in heavy rain or dense fog may fail to slow down and take the precautions they need to based on the conditions. Those caught in a snowstorm or icy conditions may not understand how the slick road surface will affect braking and steering. It’s crucial for drivers in dangerous weather to leave extra time and space so they can slow down before a stop and make safe turns. Even in foul weather, drivers are responsible for maintaining control.

Failure to yield

All drivers are expected to yield the right-of-way in certain traffic scenarios. When drivers fail to yield correctly at intersections, crosswalks, and stop signs, innocent drivers, bike riders, and pedestrians pay the price. Failure-to-yield accidents frequently lead to devastating T-bone, sideswipe, and head-on collisions.

Failure to stop

When drivers encounter stop signs or red stop lights, they’re required to come to a complete stop. Drivers who ignore the rules of the road can cause serious or fatal injuries in catastrophic collisions at intersections. Virginia is working to reduce these kinds of accidents with red light cameras and increased enforcement in problem areas.

Inexperienced drivers

People of all ages and experience levels take on a certain amount of risk while driving, but young and inexperienced drivers are especially high-risk. Inexperienced drivers are generally more likely to engage in risky behavior and lack the judgment needed to recognize and respond to dangerous situations. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), traffic accidents are the leading cause of fatalities among teens in the U.S., mainly due to inexperience.

Unsafe lane changes

Unsafe lane changes are common and dangerous driving errors, especially on highways and other high-speed roads. Drivers who fail to signal their intent or check the lanes around them are frequently involved in sideswipe, rear-end, and blind-spot accidents. Performing an unsafe lane change in Virginia is a moving violation that can result in fines, license points, and severe car accidents.

Unsafe turns

Turning safely from one roadway onto another requires spatial awareness, caution, and in some cases, rapid decision-making. Left turns are particularly challenging since drivers on the right often must cut across multiple lanes of oncoming traffic to turn left. When drivers are distracted, impaired, or inexperienced, errors in judgment can lead to unsafe turns and disastrous accidents.

Vehicle defects

When a critical vehicle component fails, even the most cautious driver can be involved in an accident. Defective brakes, steering failures, unexpected airbag deployments, and countless other vehicle malfunctions can contribute to loss of control and catastrophic crashes. When a vehicle defect is a partial or sole contributing factor in a wreck, injured victims may have grounds to take legal action against negligent manufacturers.

What to Do If You Have Been Hurt in a Crash

If you were injured in a Virginia Beach car crash, you can take the following steps to protect your legal rights and your ability to pursue compensation for your losses:

  • Seek prompt medical attention and follow through on your physician’s orders.
  • Attend all follow-up appointments and keep track of all your medical bills.
  • Keep track of your other accident-related expenses, including transportation costs to medical appointments, medical equipment, and in-home care.
  • Record everything you can remember about the crash in writing.
  • Avoid discussing the details of the accident with anyone other than your lawyer.
  • Avoid posting or sharing on social media while your accident claim is pending.
  • Contact a knowledgeable car accident attorney for a free consultation.

Contact Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers in Virginia Beach Today

Many accidents are preventable tragedies that can change the lives of injured victims forever. If you were injured in a crash through no fault of your own, it’s important to get the help you need now. 

At Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C., we represent vehicle accident victims throughout Virginia Beach, the Tidewater area, and beyond, including Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Chesapeake. Our team has handled all types of accident claims. We understand how badly a crash can wreck someone’s life. 

Let our professional and compassionate team focus on handling your claim while you focus on healing. Contact us today for a free consultation.