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Leading Causes of Car Accidents UK 2022

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 37.8% 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 19.7% of accidents) and the driver or rider being careless, reckless or in a hurry (18% of accidents).


10 Most Common Car Accident Causes in Great Britain
NumberPercent
1Driver/Rider failed to look properly22,67137.8%
2Driver/Rider failed to judge other person’s path or speed11,80719.7%
3Driver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry10,80618.0%
4Poor turn or manoeuvre6,94511.6%
5Loss of control6,83211.4%
6Slippery road (due to weather)4,8718.1%
7Exceeding speed limit4,4577.4%
8Pedestrian failed to look properly4,0276.7%
9Travelling too fast for conditions3,7446.2%
10Sudden braking2,8364.7%
Total number of accidents59,980100%
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, 5,164 accidents (4.7% 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 speed5,1644.7%
Driver/Rider failed to look properlyDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry3,1502.9%
Poor turn or manoeuvreDriver/Rider failed to look properly2,5942.3%
Driver/Rider failed to judge other person's path or speedDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry1,5251.4%
Exceeding speed limitDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry1,4441.3%
Poor turn or manoeuvreDriver/Rider failed to judge other person's path or speed1,2991.2%
Loss of controlDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry1,2361.1%
Slippery road (due to weather)Loss of control1,1331.0%
Poor turn or manoeuvreDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry1,1051.0%
Aggressive drivingDriver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry1,0440.9%

Car Accident Statistics FAQs

In 2020, 6.3% 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 3,658 car accidents in 2020 in Great Britain. Another 701 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 145 car accidents in Great Britain in 2020, which is 0.24% of all accidents.
Driver using a mobile phone contributed to 368 car accidents in Great Britain in 2020 (0.6% of accidents).
Defective traffic signals contributed to 98 car accidents in 2020 in Great Britain (0.16%).
Vehicle defects were a cause in 1,202 UK car accidents a year in 2020 which represents 2% of car accidents. This includes defective or under inflated tyres (357 accidents), defective lights or indicators (145), defective brakes (470), defective steering or suspension (180), defective or missing mirrors (9) and overloaded or poorly loaded vehicle or trailer (90).
Defective brakes are a contributing factor in 470 car accidents a year in Great Britain (0.8% of accidents).
A car driver or motorcycle rider being impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal) is a factor in 1,546 road traffic accidents a year, or 2.6% of all accidents.
Exceeding speed limit contributed to 4,391 car accidents in Great Britain in 2020 (7.3% of accidents) and Travelling too fast for conditions was a factor in 3,658 (6.1%).
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 4,644 car accidents (7.7%). Rain, sleet, snow, or fog was a factor in 1,330 accidents (2.2%). Spray from other vehicles contributed to 119 accidents (0.2%). Dazzling sun contributed to 1,849 accidents (3.1%).
We don't have statistics on dogs in particular, but animals or objects in the carriageway contribute to 638 accident a year in Great Britain, or 1.1% of accidents.
Learner or inexperienced drivers and motorcycle riders cause 2,168 accidents a year, which is 3.6% 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 contributed7,54612.6%
Poor or defective road surface4240.7%
Deposit on road (eg. oil, mud, chippings)7661.3%
Slippery road (due to weather)4,6447.7%
Inadequate or masked signs or road markings2150.4%
Defective traffic signals980.2%
Traffic calming (eg. road humps, chicane)690.1%
Temporary road layout (eg. contraflow)1600.3%
Road layout (eg. bend, hill, narrow road)1,4072.3%
Animal or object in carriageway6381.1%
Slippery inspection cover or road marking330.1%
Vehicle defects1,2022.0%
Tyres illegal, defective or under inflated3570.6%
Defective lights or indicators1450.2%
Defective brakes4700.8%
Defective steering or suspension1800.3%
Defective or missing mirrors90.0%
Overloaded or poorly loaded vehicle or trailer900.2%
Injudicious action12,88521.5%
Disobeyed automatic traffic signal1,1041.8%
Disobeyed 'Give Way' or 'Stop' sign or markings1,4882.5%
Disobeyed double white lines1480.2%
Disobeyed pedestrian crossing facility2280.4%
Illegal turn or direction of travel5400.9%
Exceeding speed limit4,3917.3%
Travelling too fast for conditions3,6586.1%
Following too close2,4394.1%
Vehicle travelling along pavement1720.3%
Cyclist entering road from pavement5761.0%
Driver/Rider error or reaction38,74564.6%
Junction overshoot1,3982.3%
Junction restart (moving off at junction)6811.1%
Poor turn or manoeuvre6,75811.3%
Failed to signal or misleading signal1,2372.1%
Driver/Rider failed to look properly21,47935.8%
Driver/Rider failed to judge other person's path or speed11,03618.4%
Too close to cyclist, horse rider or pedestrian8571.4%
Sudden braking2,6514.4%
Swerved1,9043.2%
Loss of control6,81511.4%
Impairment or distraction10,08116.8%
Driver/Rider impaired by alcohol3,7586.3%
Driver/Rider impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal)1,5462.6%
Fatigue9141.5%
Uncorrected, defective eyesight1650.3%
Driver/Rider illness or disability, mental or physical1,3952.3%
Not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility2480.4%
Rider wearing dark clothing3090.5%
Driver using mobile phone3680.6%
Distraction in vehicle2,0343.4%
Distraction outside vehicle9141.5%
Behaviour or inexperience14,72924.6%
Aggressive driving2,7214.5%
Driver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry10,54417.6%
Driver/Rider nervous, uncertain or panic8231.4%
Driving too slow for conditions or slow veh (eg tractor)820.1%
Learner or inexperienced driver/rider2,1683.6%
Inexperience of driving on the left1240.2%
Unfamiliar with model of vehicle3530.6%
Vision affected by external factors6,34410.6%
Stationary or parked vehicle(s)1,4372.4%
Vegetation1450.2%
Road layout (eg. bend, winding road, hill crest)7221.2%
Buildings, road signs, street furniture1620.3%
Dazzling headlights1960.3%
Dazzling sun1,8493.1%
Rain, sleet, snow, or fog1,3302.2%
Spray from other vehicles1190.2%
Visor or windscreen dirty, scratched or frosted etc.960.2%
Vehicle blind spot7891.3%
Pedestrian only (casualty or uninjured)6,32310.5%
Crossing road masked by stationary or parked vehicle7861.3%
Pedestrian failed to look properly3,9896.7%
Pedestrian failed to judge vehicle's path or speed1,2182.0%
Pedestrian wrong use of pedestrian crossing facility3860.6%
Dangerous action in carriageway (eg. playing)4340.7%
Pedestrian impaired by alcohol7011.2%
Pedestrian impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal)1710.3%
Pedestrian careless, reckless or in a hurry1,4812.5%
Pedestrian wearing dark clothing at night5240.9%
Pedestrian disability or illness, mental or physical2820.5%
Special Codes3,2125.4%
Stolen vehicle4650.8%
Vehicle in course of crime6181.0%
Emergency vehicle on a call3680.6%
Vehicle door opened or closed negligently1450.2%
Other1,8733.1%
Total number of accidents59,980100.0%

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