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Leading Causes of Car Accidents UK 2020

In the UK, a few factors are consistently at play in causing road traffic accidents each year. Here are statistics gathered from the Department for Transport on the most common causes of car accidents in Great Britain. Being aware of these factors can help you reduce the likelihood of getting into a car accident.

Contents

Top Ten Causes of Car Accidents in Great Britain

The #1 most common cause of car accidents in Great Britain is the driver (or motorcycle rider) failing to look properly—this factor contributes to 39.9% of car accidents. The next most common causes of car accidents is the diver or rider failing to judge another person's path or speed (a factor in 21.2% of accidents) and the driver or rider being careless, reckless or in a hurry (15.5% of accidents).

10 Most Common Car Accident Causes in Great BritainNumberPercent
1Driver/Rider failed to look properly33,89739.9%
2Driver/Rider failed to judge other person’s path or speed18,04721.2%
3Driver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry13,20315.5%
4Poor turn or manoeuvre11,02513.0%
5Loss of control9,23210.9%
6Pedestrian failed to look properly7,1828.5%
7Slippery road (due to weather)6,1537.2%
8Travelling too fast for conditions5,0485.9%
9Exceeding speed limit4,7275.6%
10Sudden braking4,6065.4%
Total number of accidents84,968100%
chart showing the most common causes of car accidents in Great Britain
Most common causes of car accidents in Great Britain

Combined Factors

An accident can have more than one contributing factor—for instance, a driver who is in a hurry might fail to look properly as a result. In fact, 8,122 accidents (5% of all accidents) had both "Driver/Rider failed to look properly" and "Driver/Rider failed to judge other person's path or speed" as factors. This is the most common pair of contributing factors, followed by failing to look and being in a hurry. Here are the ten most common pairs of car accident causes:

Most common pairs of contributory factors reported togetherNumberPercent
Driver/Rider failed to look properlyDriver/Rider failed to judge other person's path or speed8,1225.1%
Driver/Rider failed to look properlyDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry4,5332.9%
Poor turn or manoeuvreDriver/Rider failed to look properly4,4412.8%
Poor turn or manoeuvreDriver/Rider failed to judge other person’s path or speed2,2301.4%
Driver/Rider failed to judge other person’s path or speedDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry2,1561.4%
Poor turn or manoeuvreDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry1,6611.0%
Loss of controlDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry1,6001.0%
Slippery road (due to weather)Loss of control1,5091.0%
Exceeding speed limitDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry1,3880.9%
Aggressive drivingDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry1,3190.8%

Car Accident Statistics FAQs

In 2018, 5.1% of all car accidents in Great Britain were caused by drunk driving. For more information see our article on drink driving statistics.
A driver or rider being impaired by alcohol contributed to 4,351 car accidents in 2018 in Great Britain. Another 1,253 accidents were caused by pedestrians impaired by alcohol. For more information see our article on drink driving statistics.
A vehicle door being opened or closed negligently contributed to 297 car accidents in Great Britain in 2018, which is 0.35% of all accidents.
Driver using a mobile phone contributed to 423 car accidents in Great Britain in 2018 (0.5%).
Defective traffic signals contributed to 110 car accidents in 2018 in Great Britain (0.13%).
Vehicle defects were a cause in 1,392 UK car accidents a year in 2018 which represents 1.6% of car accidents. This includes defective or under inflated tyres (459 accidents), defective lights or indicators (139), defective brakes (521), defective steering or suspension (200), defective or missing mirrors (10) and overloaded or poorly loaded vehicle or trailer (114).
Defective brakes are a contributing factor in 521 car accidents a year in Great Britain (0.61% of accidents).
A car driver or motorcycle rider being impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal) is a factor in 1,321 road traffic accidents a year, or 1.6% of all accidents.
Exceeding speed limit contributed to 4,652 car accidents in Great Britain in 2018 (5.5%) and Travelling too fast for conditions was a factor in 4,930 (5.8%).
Weather contributed to 10,025 car accidents a year in Great Britain in 2018 (11.8%). A slippery road (due to weather) was a factor in 5,766 car accidents (6.8%). Rain, sleet, snow, or fog was a factor in 1,511 accidents (1.8%). Spray from other vehicles contributed to 105 accidents (0.12%). Dazzling sun contributed to 2,643 accidents (3.1%).
We don't have statistics on dogs in particular, but animals or objects in the carriageway contribute to 684 accident a year in Great Britain, or 0.81% of accidents.
Learner or inexperienced drivers and motorcycle riders cause 3,213 accidents a year, which is 3.8% of all accidents.

Methodology

We analysed road traffic accident statistics produced by the Department for Transport and available at Gov.uk. The most recently available data at the time of writing reflected data from accidents in 2018.

Note: The data in this study only includes road traffic accidents where a police officer attended the scene and in which a contributory factor was reported.

Sources

Gov.uk

All Data

Contributory factor reported in accidentNumberPercent
Road environment contributed9,54911.2%
Poor or defective road surface5170.6%
Deposit on road (eg. oil, mud, chippings)8421.0%
Slippery road (due to weather)5,7666.8%
Inadequate or masked signs or road markings3810.4%
Defective traffic signals1100.1%
Traffic calming (eg. road humps, chicane)1140.1%
Temporary road layout (eg. contraflow)2020.2%
Road layout (eg. bend, hill, narrow road)1,9682.3%
Animal or object in carriageway6840.8%
Slippery inspection cover or road marking360.0%
Vehicle defects1,3921.6%
Tyres illegal, defective or under inflated4590.5%
Defective lights or indicators1390.2%
Defective brakes5210.6%
Defective steering or suspension2000.2%
Defective or missing mirrors100.0%
Overloaded or poorly loaded vehicle or trailer1140.1%
Injudicious action16,83919.8%
Disobeyed automatic traffic signal1,3851.6%
Disobeyed 'Give Way' or 'Stop' sign or markings1,8892.2%
Disobeyed double white lines7000.8%
Disobeyed pedestrian crossing facility3110.4%
Illegal turn or direction of travel6640.8%
Exceeding speed limit4,6525.5%
Travelling too fast for conditions4,9305.8%
Following too close3,7454.4%
Vehicle travelling along pavement2030.2%
Cyclist entering road from pavement6840.8%
Driver/Rider error or reaction57,10267.2%
Junction overshoot2,0092.4%
Junction restart (moving off at junction)1,0921.3%
Poor turn or manoeuvre10,69812.6%
Failed to signal or misleading signal1,7852.1%
Driver/Rider failed to look properly32,12437.8%
Driver/Rider failed to judge other person’s path or speed16,88319.9%
Too close to cyclist, horse rider or pedestrian1,1791.4%
Sudden braking4,2695.0%
Swerved2,8733.4%
Loss of control9,18610.8%
Impairment or distraction12,61614.8%
Driver/Rider impaired by alcohol4,3515.1%
Driver/Rider impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal)1,3211.6%
Fatigue1,5281.8%
Uncorrected, defective eyesight1960.2%
Driver/Rider illness or disability, mental or physical2,0892.5%
Not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility2920.3%
Rider wearing dark clothing4080.5%
Driver using mobile phone4230.5%
Distraction in vehicle2,6473.1%
Distraction outside vehicle1,2371.5%
Behaviour or inexperience18,89222.2%
Aggressive driving3,2613.8%
Driver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry12,92615.2%
Driver/Rider nervous, uncertain or panic1,2781.5%
Driving too slow for conditions or slow veh (eg tractor)1100.1%
Learner or inexperienced driver/rider3,2133.8%
Inexperience of driving on the left3150.4%
Unfamiliar with model of vehicle5570.7%
Vision affected by external factors8,78410.3%
Stationary or parked vehicle(s)2,3782.8%
Vegetation2000.2%
Road layout (eg. bend, winding road, hill crest)9921.2%
Buildings, road signs, street furniture2150.3%
Dazzling headlights2690.3%
Dazzling sun2,6433.1%
Rain, sleet, snow, or fog1,5111.8%
Spray from other vehicles1050.1%
Visor or windscreen dirty, scratched or frosted etc.1180.1%
Vehicle blind spot1,0841.3%
Pedestrian only (casualty or uninjured)10,38512.2%
Crossing road masked by stationary or parked vehicle1,5841.9%
Pedestrian failed to look properly7,1068.4%
Pedestrian failed to judge vehicle’s path or speed2,0592.4%
Pedestrian wrong use of pedestrian crossing facility6860.8%
Dangerous action in carriageway (e.g., playing)7250.9%
Pedestrian impaired by alcohol1,2531.5%
Pedestrian impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal)2010.2%
Pedestrian careless, reckless or in a hurry2,3902.8%
Pedestrian wearing dark clothing at night6970.8%
Pedestrian disability or illness, mental or physical4620.5%
Special Codes3,9454.6%
Stolen vehicle7240.9%
Vehicle in course of crime6470.8%
Emergency vehicle on a call3960.5%
Vehicle door opened or closed negligently2970.3%
Other2,1862.6%
Total number of accidents84,968100%

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