Most Common Causes of Auto Accidents in California

California auto accidents can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including various forms of driver negligence. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact the auto accident attorneys in California to learn more about how we can help you to establish negligence and collect compensation for your damages. Following, are the most common causes of California auto accidents that our attorneys deal with on a regular basis.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of auto accidents in California and throughout the US. This is because it encompasses so many different common behaviors that distract the driver from the road and the traffic conditions. When you think of distracted driving, the one thing that probably comes to mind, right away, is cell phone use. This is an increasingly common source of driver distractions, with texting and phone conversations frequently leading to accidents. However, there are many other forms of distracted driving, including talking to passengers, grooming and applying makeup, looking at a map or an electronic navigation system, changing the radio station, paying attention to something on the side of the road (like another accident), and anything else that diverts the driver’s attention from the task at hand.


Speeding is another leading cause of California auto accidents, and many think that it is only defined as driving faster than the posted speed limit. However, a driver can be within the posted speed limit, but still considered to be speeding if he or she is traveling too fast for the weather and road conditions. For example, if the weather is particularly bad, with heavy rain or slippery roads, all drivers should take extra caution by altering their speed to accommodate the conditions of the road, to avoid slipping or hydroplaning, and to minimize the hazard of poor visibility. If you are in an auto accident that was caused by someone driving too fast for the conditions of the weather or the roads, that driver may be liable for your damages even if he or she was still driving within the posted speed limit. Be sure to take photos of the road and weather conditions, if possible, and make notes about what you recall from the accident.

Wrong-Way Driving

The majority of head on collisions are caused by drivers who are driving on the wrong side of the road or going the wrong way on a one way road. There are some cases where this is simply an error caused by not paying attention to the road signs on a one-way street. Yet, the majority of such accidents occur because the driver on the wrong side of the road was intoxicated, distracted, fatigued, or impaired in some other way (such as illness or medication), resulting in confusion, falling asleep at the wheel, or veering into the wrong lane. This form of accident is most common in California at night and on weekends, possibly because these are the times when people are most likely to be intoxicated or suffering from fatigue.

Violating Traffic Laws and Signals

There are many ways that a person can violate traffic laws and signals. This includes everything from failing to yield the right of way, failing to maintain an appropriate distance between vehicles, and failing to stop at traffic lights and stop signs. When drivers disregard traffic signals, they often end up causing side-impact collisions. Efforts have been made by the California Highway Patrol to reduce the incidence of such collisions by installing cameras to catch drivers who run red lights. Unfortunately, this does not minimize the number of accidents caused by failing to yield the right of way or making improper turns or lane changes.

How to Respond to a California Auto Accident

There is a good chance that you will be involved in an auto accident at some point in your life, and if you are here to read this information, it is likely that you have recently been the victim of someone else’s careless behavior or negligence on the road. The best way to respond to an auto accident is to stop at the scene, moving your vehicle out of the lane of traffic, if possible; and assess the situation. Ensure that yourself, your passengers, and the driver and passengers of other involved vehicles are okay. Then, contact the police. If emergency medical care is needed for anyone, call 911. In the event that you or anyone else is injured or killed in the accident, this must be reported to the California Highway Patrol or police within 24 hours of the incident.

From this point, you should try to take photos of the accident and road conditions, write down your memories of how the accident occurred, collect the contact information of any witnesses, and exchange contact and insurance information with the other involved drivers. You should avoid making any statements at this time, and do not apologize for anything. Don’t say anything at all that could indicate that you take responsibility for the accident. At the same time, do not make any accusations or lose your temper with the other driver, even if it was clearly their fault, even if their actions have put yourself and others in danger, even if you are rightfully upset. It is important to remain as calm and clear headed as possible after an auto accident.

If you were not transported to the nearest emergency room for urgent treatment of injuries, then you should seek a full medical evaluation as soon as possible after the accident. You may have injuries that you are unaware of or your injuries may be more severe than you think. This is not the time to take a “wait and see” approach to potential injuries. Failing to seek medical care at the earliest opportunity can significantly harm your case at a later date.

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