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Top Causes of Traffic Accidents in Virginia

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Virginia drivers and passengers are at constant risk of suffering an injury or death in a car accident. No matter how safely one drives, the threat of an accident caused by another negligent driver is ever-present. However, driving safely does in fact lower the risk of an accident, as does knowledge of the circumstances under which most accidents occur.

Top Causes of Traffic Accidents in Virginia

Most adults in the state either drive or are regular passengers in cars. Research shows that nearly 80% of all drivers in the U.S. have experienced a car accident. Most people are likely familiar with many of the top causes of traffic accidents in Virginia.

Driving While Distracted

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Most drivers find it tempting to engage in some type of behavior that distracts them from the road. Fortunately, a large percentage of them don’t give in to the pressure of distraction. However, those who do are directly responsible for car accident injuries and fatalities.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (iii), distraction-affected crashes led to the deaths of over 3,000 individuals in the U.S. in 2020. In Virginia, nearly 19,000 distracted-driver crashes were reported.

Cell phones are a common type of crash-causing distraction; people find it irresistible to text, post, and chat while driving. However, other types of distracted driving are just as injurious and deadly, such as rubbernecking at an event or incident outside of the vehicle or engaging with a passenger.


There is no disputing the fact that speed directly increases the odds of injury or death from a crash. The faster you go, the less time you have to react to a dangerous situation. On top of that, the faster your car is traveling, the more damage it will do.

For pedestrians or bicyclists in a car accident, the chance of serious injury or death rises exponentially for every 5 to 10 mph faster a vehicle travels.

Following Too Closely

Also known as tailgating, following too closely prevents you from reacting safely to the actions of the cars ahead of you. A sudden stop can send you crashing into the back of the vehicle in front of you. On the highway, tailgating is particularly perilous due to the increased speeds.

Driving While Drunk

It may seem like everyone is doing it, but they are not. However, drunk driving is so prevalent that it is likely to always remain one of the top causes of traffic accidents in Virginia.

In 2020, there were 14,105 DUI convictions in Virginia — a much lower number than normal due to COVID-19. Although there were fewer convictions that year, the number of drunk-driving fatalities decreased only by 0.6% (168).

Failure to Yield

There were 14,174 failure-to-yield accidents in Virginia in 2020, making it one of the top causes of traffic accidents in Virginia. Failure to yield typically occurs at intersections while one driver is turning left. Oncoming traffic has the right-of-way in this situation, but many drivers make the left turn without yielding to approaching vehicles.

Failure-to-yield accidents also occur when cars enter roadways by way of ramps, driveways, or other methods.

Failure to Observe Traffic Signals and Signs

There are many reasons why drivers fail to observe traffic signs and signals. Oftentimes, they fail to obey because they are in a rush or are driving distracted. Whatever the reason, unsuspecting drivers who are obeying the law can suddenly find themselves in a serious accident due to the carelessness of another driver.

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Improper Lane Change

You’ve likely seen a car attempt to change lanes only to find the target lane to be occupied. The results can be deadly, especially at high speeds. Frequently, improper lane changes occur when a driver fails to check their blind spot or attempts to squeeze in between two vehicles. In both cases, negligence is afoot.

Dangerous Weather Conditions

You can navigate dangerous situations with the proper care. For example, the presence of black ice on the road may require motorists to drive more slowly than the speed limit allows. Or an intense downpour might substantially reduce drivers’ visibility and also require them to drive much more slowly and carefully.

Dangerous Road Conditions

Weather is not the only thing that can make the roads a dangerous place. Disrepair can also cause accidents. Potholes, uneven lanes, and the lack of proper signage cause their fair share of accidents.

Some drivers are unable to adapt when road conditions alter the driving experience. And some downright refuse to do so, perhaps out of pride and most assuredly out of haste.

Unsafe Vehicles

A lot goes into a vehicle to make it safe for the roadways. The failure of any of the many parts and systems of a car can lead to a catastrophic accident.

For example, take the brakes. If they fail, a car becomes as deadly as a weapon. But even failure of “less-important” parts or systems can cause an accident. For example, a faulty windshield wiper can leave you driving blind in a rainstorm.

As you can see, many of the top causes of traffic accidents in Virginia are underpinned by human negligence, which is a powerful force. Twenty safe drivers could be negatively impacted by the actions of just one negligent motorist. Of course, not all accidents involve so many vehicles, but many produce significant losses for victims.

If you have been in a car crash, contact a lawyer to get the recompense you are entitled to. You deserve high-caliber representation during your claim for compensation. At The Joel Bieber Firm, we have an experienced car accident lawyer ready to help. Call today for a free consultation and case review.

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