A dramatic drop in the number of fatalities on the roads in the last few decades means that the UK has one of the best road safety records in Europe. In the mid 1980s around 5,500 people were killed on the roads per year, which fell to 1,754 in 2012.

Car driver on the phone

What are the most common causes of road accidents?

However, this still means that one in five people die on Britain’s roads every single day – and with 23,039 serious injuries sustained last year the dangers of motoring are unmistakable.

But what are the most common causes of road traffic accidents?


While the safest drivers concentrate fully on the road, nearly everyone succumbs to some form of distraction at the wheel. From passengers chattering in the back of the car to a hands free phone conversation, there are plenty of distractions that take your eyes and ears off the roads. All it takes is a couple of seconds when you are busy concentrating on something else like changing the radio station for an accident to happen.


We’ve all heard the adverts telling motorists to take a break when they start to feel tired. However, whether due to work commitments or being in a hurry to get somewhere, not everyone takes this advice. Dropping off at the wheel is not uncommon and can have serious repercussions.


According to figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, over 300 deaths a year are caused by drivers being “careless, reckless or in a hurry”. Careless driving often means motorists drive with no regard for speed limits and traffic signs, their only aim being to get to their destination as fast as possible. Around 400 people a year die in crashes which are the result of someone exceeding the speed limit – or driving too fast for the conditions.

Poor conditions

While the blame can lie with the driver in the event of an accident, this is not always the case. As winter inches ever closer, it’s important to be aware of reduced visibility and slippery roads, when fallen leaves, rain, snow and ice can turn a road into an ice rink.

While road and weather conditions can be a contributing factor in road accidents, remember it’s your responsibility as a driver to be cautious and vigilant on the road. There are no special legal rules that come into force when road conditions deteriorate due to the conditions. Therefore, road users must moderate their driving to take account of the conditions.

If you were involved in an accident and want to pursue it further, for example to make a personal injury claim, it’s crucial you know what to do at the scene.