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What Are the Leading Causes of Fatal Car Accidents?

Posted on June 25, 2021 in

Car accidents can lead to serious injuries—and in many cases, these injuries can be life-threatening. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, 446 fatal crashes took place in Oregon during 2018. Certain acts of driver negligence are more likely to lead to fatal accidents than others, including the use of alcohol and drugs, speeding, and dangerous lane changes.

What Are the Leading Causes of Fatal Car Accidents?

Failure to Stop

Stop signs and red lights help control the flow of traffic and prevent serious collisions. However, a driver who ignores these signs and signals can collide with other vehicles at high speeds, leading to potentially fatal collisions. If a driver fails to pay attention to the road, he or she puts everyone at risk.

Distracted Driving

To drive safely, it is important to keep your eyes, mind, and hands focused on the road. Unfortunately, not all motorists pay attention while driving, impairing their ability to properly react to hazards or remain aware of other drivers and pedestrians in the area. Distracted driving can involve texting, talking on the phone, fiddling with the radio or GPS system, eating or drinking, or even talking with other passengers in the vehicle, and can result in Portland bicycle accidents, car accidents, pedestrian accidents, and serious or fatal injuries.

Failure to Yield

Right-of-way laws are in place to direct traffic and prevent drivers from colliding with one another. However, some drivers ignore these rules, cutting other vehicles off unexpectedly and triggering a serious collision. These accidents can generate a significant amount of force, leading to fatalities.

Driving Under the Influence

Alcohol and drugs severely impair many of the functions necessary for safe driving, including coordination, judgment, motor skills, and concentration. If a driver is intoxicated, he or she is more likely to commit a serious error and cause a traffic accident. Because drivers who are under the influence are more erratic, their sudden and unpredictable actions can lead to a very severe crash.


Speed limits are in place to keep everyone safe on the road. If a driver operates far above the speed limit, he or she has less time to react to hazards, which can put others at risk of an accident. Speeding drivers also collide with other vehicles and pedestrians with a higher amount of force than a driver who is operating at the appropriate speed limit, which can make the collision even more severe.

Unsafe Lane Changes

Before a driver changes lanes, he or she has a duty to make sure that it is clear and that he or she has enough time to safely merge. Unfortunately, some drivers may merge before taking the time to check the lane, colliding with a vehicle traveling in the same direction. In some cases, a driver may veer into another lane while drowsy, distracted, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Reckless or Aggressive Driving

Some accidents do not simply involve a driving error or careless mistake—some collisions are caused by another driver’s intentionally reckless or aggressive behaviors. Examples of reckless driving include intentionally cutting others off on the road, weaving in and out of traffic, and tapping other vehicles in an act of road rage. Very serious acts of aggressive or reckless driving can lead to fatal accidents.

What to Do After a Fatal Car Accident

Losing a loved one in a car accident is an extremely difficult and traumatizing experience, especially if someone else’s negligence caused the collision. In these situations, you and your family may have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. If you believe that you may have grounds for legal action, contact a Portland wrongful death attorney to discuss your next steps.

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