6 Surprising Causes of Traffic Accidents

These days, the media, the government, and many advocacy groups are touting the dangers du jour related to driving. Many of these include distracted driving, texting while driving, talking on a cell phone use while driving, and driving after consuming alcohol or drugs.

While these problems are certainly cause for concern, there are several other reasons why motorists get into auto accidents — and they might surprise you. Here are six of them.

Turn signals

It’s hard to believe, but the Society of American Engineers estimates that as much as two million auto accidents occur each year because of people failing to turn their signals on or off. The SAE says this happens about 48% of the time when drivers change lanes — which means that it’s not just clueless elderly drivers who weave in traffic and/or forget to turn off their blinkers.

Wrong-way drivers

This reason is unexpected because it’s so counterintuitive. After all, people who drive on the right side of the road and obey traffic signs should never be guilty of this, right? Despite the prevalence of road signs, countless collisions are caused by drivers traveling the wrong way on a one-way street, freeway, or highway. Perhaps not surprisingly, over three out of every five wrong-way accidents involve drunk drivers and occur between midnight and 6am.


These road hazards have long been identified as causes for auto damage, but they can also lead to accidents as well. Consider this: deep potholes can create an impact similar to that of a 35 mile-per-hour collision. So it isn’t hard to imagine a pothole forcing a car to crash into an object or another vehicle. And there are probably plenty of potholes lurking on the roads where you live.

Animals (interior)

No, this category doesn’t refer to elk, deer, cows, or other large animals that wander into the roadway. This type of collision refers to animals inside the vehicle — from dogs and cats which can distract the driver to bugs, wasps, and spiders which can elicit panicky reactions. And when drivers freak out, bad things tend to happen around them.


You may have suspected this, but the Transport Research Laboratory in Britain has estimated that about 900,000 accidents happen each year in that country because of drivers getting distracted by attractive members of the opposite sex. This phenomenon includes billboards and posters of eye-catching individuals in addition to pedestrians. In fact, as much as 70% of people (mostly men, but not always) have admitted they have been distracted in this manner while driving. Though there’s no known research on this subject regarding U.S. drivers, it’s not a stretch to assume that these findings would be similar here in America.

The “unexplained”

You might be astounded (or not) at the number of auto accident reports over the past several decades which refer to unexplainable phenomena as factors in a given collision. Some drivers report seeing UFOs, while others swear that ghosts or other apparitions frightened them into causing an accident. While alcohol or drugs do play a role in some of these accounts, there are people who are absolutely convinced that these experiences were real — though they likely still had trouble convincing their auto insurance agents.


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