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Motor vehicle accidents can occur in a variety of ways, making certain incidents more common or more dangerous than others. Knowing which accidents occur most often, how they are caused, and what the repercussions may be can help you better understand the importance of defensive driving and lower your risk of an accident.
In no particular order, here are eight of the most common types of car accidents you should know about.
1. Head-on collisions
Not only is a head-on collision one of the most common types of car accidents but it’s also widely considered to be the deadliest.
As it involves the forces of two vehicles traveling in opposite directions, the unfortunate reality is that a large percentage of these accidents are fatal. Nearly 5,000 people are killed in the United States each year due to head-on collisions.
Even in an accident that involves
Whether you’re involved in one or you witness one, knowing
2. Rear-end collisions
The rear-end collision is the most common type of car accident, accounting for
This type of incident occurs when one car’s front bumper collides with another car’s rear bumper. In a rear-end collision, it’s worth noting that the driver whose front bumper makes contact is nearly always at fault.
Much of the time, these collisions involve minor damage and both drivers can escape unscathed. However, more severe rear-end collisions occur when a driver is distracted and doesn’t engage his or her brakes before making contact with the car ahead.
3. Side-impact collisions
Side-impact collisions involve two cars that are traveling parallel to one another. They most often occur when a car either fails to merge into another lane safely or attempts to overtake a car without spotting the car traveling alongside them.
The damage caused by accidents can range from light scrapes or blemishes to large dents and structural damage, depending on the force at which the two vehicles collide.
While side-impact collisions aren’t typically fatal in and of themselves, they can cause drivers to overcorrect, spin out, and even collide with other vehicles or objects.
4. Cross-traffic accidents
Sometimes referred to as a “T-bone” accident, a cross-traffic accident occurs when a car collides head-on with the side of another car.
Cross-traffic accidents are most often caused at busy intersections. They can happen when one driver runs a red light while another driver has a green light; but they can also occur whenever a driver fails to yield to the driver who has the right of way.
Much like head-on collisions, cross-traffic accidents are often fatal. These incidents typically involve at least one car that is traveling at a high speed, making the driver or passenger on the side of the impact particularly vulnerable and likely to sustain severe injuries.
Pedestrians are also at risk of being struck, injured, or killed by an accident at an intersection. In 2017,
5. Chain reaction accidents
Particularly when cars are keeping traveling distances at a minimum or conditions are poor, a single collision between two cars can quickly cause other cars to become involved in the accident as well.
In a chain reaction or multivehicle accident, it can be very difficult to determine who is at fault. In many cases, the driver who caused the initial accident is held liable for the damage to all other vehicles.
6. Rollover accidents
As the term suggests, a rollover accident leaves one or more vehicles either on its side or upside down. There are two categories of rollover accidents—tripped rollovers and untripped rollovers.
Tripped rollovers make up the majority of rollover accidents and occur when an object—whether it’s a median, guardrail, or curb—causes it to flip over. Untripped rollovers, on the other hand, are significantly less common and occur when a driver swerves to avoid an object.
Rollover accidents don’t always include other vehicles or objects, however. They can occur when a driver misjudges the sharpness of a turn or drives too quickly around a bend in slippery conditions.
7. Low-speed contact accidents
Low-speed contact accidents—although not among the deadliest types of accidents and not typically fatal—occur quite frequently. These accidents are caused when drivers attempt to navigate tight spaces that are too difficult to maneuver.
Some of the most common scenarios include making contact with another car while pulling into or out of a parking space and colliding with a vehicle or object while making a sharp turn in a parking lot.
As these collisions occur at speeds of just 10 miles per hour or less, drivers are not typically in danger—although their vehicles may be damaged. Rather, pedestrians are more at risk of getting injured in these types of accidents.
8. Single vehicle accidents
As the term implies, single vehicle accidents involve only one vehicle—at most, one vehicle and another object. Single vehicle accidents are most common among young drivers who travel at high speeds, drive aggressively, or get distracted while behind the wheel.
Finally, a single vehicle accident can also occur when one of the car’s systems—such as its braking or steering system—is defective.