Important Information About Car Accidents and Driver Error

With millions of vehicles on the road every day, accidents will undoubtedly happen. During 2013 in Texas, there was a reportable crash every 71 seconds and a reportable injury from a crash every 2 minutes and 16 seconds.1 Accident attorneys who help people injured from such accidents have noted that car crashes are often caused by preventable driver error.

According to the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS) from 2005 to 2007, driver error was the leading cause of car accidents, accounting for up to 93% of crashes. Of the driver-related causes, recognition (41%) and decision (34%) errors accounted for a total of 75% of the types of driver errors made.In addition, accident attorneys who help clients recover from car accident injuries note that 46% of the crashes that made up these statistics happened when the vehicle was going straight on the roadway, 71% occurred during daylight hours, and 74% took place during clear weather conditions.1

Driver Error Categories

There are four different categories of driver error used in the above NMVCCS report: recognition, decision, performance, and nonperformance mistakes.

  • Recognition – This category of driver error accounted for 41% of noted driver problem areas. Inadequate surveillance accounted for the most accidents in this category. That is, failure to look or looking but not seeing what it would take for proper evasive action. Internal and external distractions and inattention or daydreaming are also considered recognition errors.

  • Decision – Errors that involved making a conscious decision accounted for 34% according to the NMVCCS report. The highest-ranking error was driving too fast for conditions. Taking a curve too fast, making an illegal maneuver, misjudgment of distances, following too closely, and ‘road rage’ also are included in this category. These involve choices that a driver makes when traveling the roadways.

  • Performance – Statistics showed that performance error accounted for 10% of the driver error factors. Overcompensation such as jerking the wheel when driving off the road as well as sheer panic or ‘freezing’ while driving are included within this category.

  • Nonperformance  – The errors in this category accounted for about 7% of the crashes that were included in the NMVCCS report. Falling asleep while driving ranks highest. Others include health-related issues such as asthma attacks, drops in blood sugar with diabetics, and heart attacks or strokes.

Many of the above driver error statistics have been and are being used in the development of crash avoidance technology by the automotive industry to address crash situations that could be prevented. Such technology can save lives, eliminate injuries, and reduce many vehicle crashes.

Whether brought about by recognition, decision, performance, or nonperformance issues, driver error is the cause of most car accidents. If you have been injured as a result of errors by another driver, seek the help of experienced accident attorneys who are trained in the investigation of motor vehicle accidents and are prepared to seek compensation for personal injury victims.

2National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS) Report to Congress, 2008

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