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What are the most common reasons for motor vehicle accidents?

The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, which is better known as the NMVCCS, is made up of data that was collected between 2005 and 2007 to study the reasons that most commonly caused car accidents and collisions in the United States. The sample was made up of 5,470 crashes and looked at how critical factors impacted the risk of a collision.

What are the main critical reasons for collisions?

The main critical reasons include recognition errors, performance errors, non-performance errors, and decision errors. For instance, not recognizing a car is coming could result in a recognition error. Non-performance errors could be things like failing to stop at a light or falling asleep behind the wheel. Decision errors could be something like pulling out into traffic even though there isn't enough time to cross before a car collides with you.

Are there critical reasons unrelated to the way drivers are handling their vehicles?

Yes. There are critical reasons including fog, rain or snow, the design of a road, and other highway-related conditions. These environmental issues can also result in collisions, and in those cases, driver error may be more difficult to prove. If you're trying to seek compensation for a crash, environmental factors could make it a more complicated case.

Here's an example. If the roads are very icy, it might not be uncommon for a driver to slide on the road. What could make the driver negligent would be if he or she was traveling at an unsafe speed or if the person was weaving in traffic despite difficulties in maneuvering.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Critical Reasons for Crashes Investigated in the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey," accessed May 18, 2016

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