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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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