Driver behavior is the most common cause of the 5.8 million car accidents that happen in the United States every year. The list below, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, highlights the top 10 behaviors that can lead to accidents.
1. Distraction – this is the behavior that causes the most accidents. In 2008, 20 percent of all crashes, about 1.1 million, involved some type of driver distraction. The most common distraction is talking with a passenger, while texting and rubbernecking cause the most accidents.
2. Drowsy driving and falling asleep – they account for about 100,000 accidents every year.
3. Misjudgment – about nine percent of crashes in 2008 were caused by misjudgment and "false assumption of others' actions."
4. Speeding – speeding is linked to approximately eight percent of accidents. Even though it's not the most common cause of crashes, it is one of the deadliest. It was a factor in 30 percent of all fatal accidents in 2004. The force of a crash doubles for every 10 mph increase over 50 mph.
5. Drunk driving – there were 11,773 drunk driving deaths in 2008; that's 32 percent of all car accident fatalities.
6. Failing to yield – a 2009 report from the Virginia Highway Safety Office found that this dangerous habit was involved in eight percent of crashes.
7. Disobeying traffic signs – a 2008 report on crashes in Kansas found that this behavior was involved in five percent of all accidents.
8. Swerving to avoid and overcompensating – involved in five percent of crashes.
9. Improper and unsafe lane changing – accounts for about four percent of accidents.
10. Tailgating and other aggressive driving – these were factors in approximately three percent of crashes.