What is the most common cause of collisions?

12 minute read Published on Mar 26, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Shards of car glass on the street with a blurred background of a car on the road

Car accidents happen every day. As a driver, your goal is to avoid an accident by all means possible. But in order to avoid an accident, you first need to know what the most common car accidents are. Below, we explain the most common causes of collisions.

The most common causes of car accidents

The data is clear. There are some causes of car accidents that are more common than others. To help you stay safe on the road and avoid any type of accident, we highlight a few of the most frequent causes of auto collisions in Canada below:

1. Distracted driving

For quite some time, distracted driving has been the number one cause of collisions in Canada. Distracted driving is a fairly broad term that can include any activity that directs the driver’s attention away from the task of driving. Thus, everything from eating a snack or drinking water to talking on the phone, texting, or changing the radio stations are considered distractions. In addition, speaking to another passenger in the car, such as to a child in the backseat, is another example of distracted driving. It is important to remember that texting and driving is illegal in Canada. Although some of the other types of distractions listed are not illegal, it is essential to avoid engaging in such behaviours when you are behind the wheel. Accidents are far more likely to occur when you don’t devote your full attention to the road. You can learn more about the penalties for distracted driving here.

2. Speeding

Speeding is another common cause of collisions. Nearly all of us are guilty of speeding occasionally, whether we’re running late for work or didn’t leave enough time to pick our kids up from school. In some cases, you might not even be aware that you’re driving over the speed limit. That said, it’s critical to keep track of your speed and obey the speed limit at all times, as speeding is an easy recipe for getting into a car accident. This is because when we travel at faster speeds, we have less time to react to situations around us. If you were forced to react to something suddenly, your odds of being able to brake in time go down if you’re speeding.

You are also at an increased risk of losing control of the car. Further, not only is speeding a common cause of car accidents generally, but it is also a common cause of severe accidents. Accidents that involve speeding usually have a more significant impact on passengers, such as serious injuries or even fatalities, not to mention the impact on your car, with vehicles more likely to suffer major damage or even be totalled. Given how risky speeding is, it likely won’t come as a surprise that racking up speeding tickets will impact your insurance policy. Specifically, it can cause your rates to increase.

3. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is another common cause of vehicle collisions in Canada. One of the most prominent forms of impaired driving, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs that is above the legal limit where you reside, is not only dangerous but is also illegal. Unlike some of the other causes of collisions on this list, driving drunk is a criminal offence. This means that not only can getting a DUI affect your insurance rates, but you can also receive a criminal conviction that goes on your criminal record.

While the reasons that impaired driving increases your risk of a car accident may seem pretty self-explanatory, we will outline them here:

Reaction time

When you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your reflexes are slower. Thus, when you’re driving, you won’t have the ability to react to various hazards and conditions quickly.


Again, when you’re drunk or high, you will have more difficulty with coordination. This extends to everything from your hands and feet to your vision, all of which are incredibly important while driving.


Alcohol and drugs have the ability to impact your concentration. Thus, if you drive impaired, you may find it more difficult to stay awake or focus your attention on the road in front of you.


Alcohol, in particular, has been shown to slow a driver’s eye muscle function and eye movement. It can also blur your vision, which negatively affects your ability to drive.


Lastly, in order to drive safely, you must be able to safely judge the positions and locations of other cars, pedestrians, and objects on the road. However, when you’re drunk, your ability to do this is diminished, which is why drunk drivers often swerve and speed.

4. Aggressive driving

The next most common cause of collisions is aggressive driving. Let’s be honest, there are times when driving is incredibly frustrating. Whether you’re stuck in standstill traffic during rush hour or there’s a slowdown due to construction. That said, there is never any excuse for aggressive driving. Examples of aggressive driving include tailgating, repeated honking, making rude gestures, and yelling at other drivers or pedestrians. The worst part about aggressive driving is that driving in this kind of mood increases your odds of engaging in risky behaviours, such as speeding, changing lanes without signalling, switching lanes erratically, and driving too close to other cars.

In extreme cases, an angry driver might even attempt to run another driver off the road or assault another driver. While there are now laws in Canada that specifically deal with road rage, many of the driving behaviours that are associated with aggressive motorists are infractions that can result in tickets, such as speeding. So, if you want to avoid an increase in your car insurance premium, it’s best to remain calm and follow the rules of the road at all times. Channel the energy that would go into your anger into relaxing thoughts or breathing techniques that help calm and ground you.

5. Driving while fatigued

Driving while fatigued is yet another common cause of car accidents in Canada. It’s common for people to get behind the wheel while tired. Whether they’re exhausted after a long day of work or during their early morning commute, people lead exhausting, stressful lives. That said, falling asleep behind the wheel is a quick way to get into a collision. So, if you’re ever feeling particularly fatigued or drowsy, it’s best to pull over or avoid getting behind the wheel altogether.

This is because when we’re sleeping, we have a more difficult time concentrating on the road. Our reaction times are also slower. In addition, our vision may be impaired as our eyelids grow heavy. So before you drive, assess your level of alertness. If you know you’ll have trouble staying awake, take public transit, ask a friend for a ride, or take steps to make yourself more alert, such as by drinking a cup of coffee.

6. Inclement weather

Driving in inclement weather can also lead to car accidents in Canada. Extreme weather conditions often make roads slicker, reducing traction and, therefore, minimizing a tire’s ability to grip the road. This can result in slower brake times and decreased handling capabilities. Examples of inclement weather include heavy rain, fog, snow, ice, and hail. Most of these conditions are more likely to occur in the winter, but you can face various adverse weather conditions year-round. As a driver, there are steps you can take to make driving in extreme weather safer, such as installing snow tires on your car over the winter.

Plus, installing snow tires on your car may earn you a car insurance discount. Other steps you can take include turning on your low-beam headlights when driving through fog or any weather where visibility is impaired. Slowing down is also a smart idea, even if that means driving below the speed limit. Sun glare is another potentially dangerous weather condition that many drivers forget about. Glare from the sun can limit our vision, which is why using the sun visor in your car and driving with sunglasses is crucial. In extreme weather, like a blizzard or ice storm, staying home until the weather has returned to normal and the roads have been cleared is the best course of action.

7. Running red or yellow lights

Now we’re getting into the dangerous driving behaviours that increase a motorist’s odds of getting into a collision, and the first is running red or yellow lights. As many drivers know, intersections are one of the most dangerous places on the road. This is partly because of the increased amount of traffic that congregates here but also because of the traffic light system. Studies show that yellow traffic lights, in particular, increase the odds of a collision because they force the driver to make a split-second decision.

Generally speaking, a yellow light in Canada requires the driver to slow down. However, there are some situations when slowing down in time is impossible, and thus, the safest action for the driver is to continue travelling through the light. Learning how to safely time and judge yellow lights is a skill. Driving with as much caution as possible is key, especially when you are approaching an intersection. And whatever you do, never drive through a red light. Running a red is extremely dangerous and is a quick way to incur a traffic ticket.

8. Running a stop sign

Like the danger of running through a red or yellow light, running a stop sign will also increase your odds of getting into a collision. The problem with stop signs is that many drivers do not take them as seriously as traffic lights. Although they are to be obeyed at all times, some motorists choose to engage in risky behaviours, such as rolling stops over complete stops or failing to yield to other cars using the right-of-way system. In addition, since there are no traffic lights, it is up to each motorist to decide when it is safe to proceed. This can lead to misjudgments, which may result in accidents. Drivers should take care to get into the habit of fully stopping at a stop sign and assessing all other roads around them before proceeding.

9. Misjudging turns

Misjudging turns is another driver behaviour that can cause collisions. This includes left turns at intersections, which are especially risky, as well as right-hand turns and even U-turns. Basically, anytime a driver has to judge oncoming traffic before making a turn, the odds are higher of an accident occurring. Failing to use a turn signal and driving in inclement weather makes turning even more risky. T-bone collisions are a common type of collision that occurs when a driver is making a left-hand turn at an intersection.

10. Driving near road hazards

Driving near dangerous road hazards can also increase your risk of getting into a collision. Examples of road hazards include potholes, manhole covers, sharp curves, steep inclines, roads without markings or signs, and surface changes, e.g. from paved asphalt to a gravel or dirt road. Any of these hazards can make it more dangerous to drive. They also increase the odds of your car being damaged. Thankfully, many types of auto insurance would cover this. While it is not the driver’s fault that a road may contain hazards, it is still their job to drive defensively and respond to any hazards appropriately.

Please note that determining fault in a car accident when a road hazard is part of the equation can be difficult. After reporting the car accident, an insurance adjuster will likely be assigned to the case. Shared fault might be determined, especially if the road hazard was the fault of a third party, such as the city or municipality where you live. That said, in Ontario, one party will typically always be found more at fault than the other, which means only one party will be on the hook for the costs of the accident in the end. If you got into a car accident due to a hazard, such as a pothole, contact your insurance broker or a car accident attorney for advice.

Injuries that may result from car accident

Since we’ve not run through the ten most common causes of car accidents in Canada, let’s now outline some of the most common injuries that may result from these car accidents. The reality is that property damage is only one possible outcome of a car accident. There are several others, and they are even more dangerous. For instance, a car accident could result in serious injury to the driver or passengers. Accidents can even be fatal. Keep reading for a list of injuries that may result from a collision:

Traumatic brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are sudden injuries that cause damage to the brain. They occur when your head suffers a bump or blow or if an object penetrates your skull in any way. TBIs range from mild to moderate to severe. Severe cases of TBI can lead to a coma or even death.

Spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries are those that cause damage to the spinal cord or the nerves at the bottom of the spinal canal. Spinal cord injuries can significantly impact bodily functions. For instance, they can result in a loss of movement, a loss of bladder or bowel control, and a loss of sensation (paralysis).

Broken bones

It is also not uncommon for car accidents to result in broken bones. Affected bones could be anything from ribs and arms to legs, ankles, and wrists. Although most broken bones can be repaired, this can take time. Minor cases, such as fractures, may be fixed with a simple cast. Meanwhile, severe breaks could require surgery to repair. Thankfully, depending on the accident's circumstances, any medical expenses, including postoperative care, such as physical therapy, may be covered by accident benefits coverage or third-party liability car insurance.

Lacerations and road rash

Lacerations and road rash are perhaps the most minor examples of injuries that may come from a collision. That said, they can still be severe. For example, if a flying object, such as broken glass or a piece of sheet metal, were to hit you during the crash, this could lead to deep lacerations and a lot of blood loss. Further, a driver or passenger may incur bruises if thrown against their car's interior or exterior during the accident. Road rash may also result from an accident if someone involved is thrown or dragged across pavement or concrete. The friction of the pavement causes road rash.

Generally speaking, if you suspect that you are injured following a car accident, make sure that you call 9-1-1 right away. Even if you don’t suspect injuries, being checked out by a medical professional after any type of collision is recommended. Some injuries may not be apparent right away or may not be detectable to you without medical experience. Further, the list above only details a few of the many possible injuries that may stem from car accidents. Whiplash, internal bleeding, burns, organ damage, and even psychological issues like post-traumatic stress disorder may result from a collision.

Contact BrokerLink for more information on the causes of motor vehicle accidents

At this point, you may still have questions about the causes of motor vehicle accidents where you live. If you’d like to gain more insight into collisions, including how they occur and how you can avoid them, reach out to BrokerLink today. One of our licensed insurance advisors can explain the dangers of the road and ensure that you have a policy to protect against them.

Here at BrokerLink, we specialize in tailor-made auto insurance coverage. We can find a policy that complies with local laws and meets your needs. A few of the types of coverage we can help you find include:

If you have questions about mandatory or optional coverage, BrokerLink is here. Thanks to our free estimates, we can also tell you how much your car insurance plan will cost. BrokerLink offers free car insurance quotes to all customers. All you have to do is get in touch over the phone, in person, or online, and one of our licensed advisors will provide you with a free quote in minutes. We will ask you a few questions to ensure they are as accurate as possible. Once we have the answers we need, you will get your estimate in as little as five minutes!

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