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2 car accidents insurance

"Car crash" redirects here. For other uses, see Car Crash.
Vehicle collision
Synonyms traffic accident, motor vehicle accident, car accident, automobile accident, road traffic collision, road accident, road traffic accident, wreck, car crash, car wreck, car smash, auto accident, knockdown, plowthrough, fender bender, pileup
Allstate car insurance quote njmc
A head-on collision involving two vehicles
Classification and external resources
Specialty Emergency medicine
ICD-10 V89.2 or V99
ICD-9-CM E810 - E819
MeSH D000063

A traffic collision, also called a motor vehicle collision (MVC) or many other terms, occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree or pole. Traffic collisions often result in injury, death, and property damage.

A number of factors contribute to the risk of collision, including vehicle design, speed of operation, road design, road environment, and driver skill, impairment due to alcohol or drugs, and behavior, notably speeding and street racing. Worldwide, motor vehicle collisions lead to death and disability as well as financial costs to both society and the individuals involved.

Road injuries occurred in about 54 million people in 2013.[1] This resulted in 1.4 million deaths in 2013, up from 1.1 million deaths in 1990.[2] About 68,000 of these occurred in children less than five years old.[2] Almost all high-income countries have decreasing death rates, while the majority of low-income countries have increasing death rates due to traffic collisions. Middle-income countries have the highest rate with 20 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, 80% of all road fatalities by only 52% of all vehicles. While the death rate in Africa is the highest (24.1 per 100,000 inhabitants), the lowest rate is to be found in Europe (10.3 per 100,000 inhabitants).[3]


  • 1 Terminology
  • 2 Health effects
    • 2.1 Psychological
    • 2.2 Physical
  • 3 Causes
    • 3.1 Human factors
      • 3.1.1 Motor vehicle speed
      • 3.1.2 Driver impairment
    • 3.2 Road design
    • 3.3 Vehicle design and maintenance
    • 3.4 Other
  • 4 Prevention
    • 4.1 United Nations
    • 4.2 Collision migration
  • 5 Epidemiology
    • 5.1 Crash rates
    • 5.2 Fatality
  • 6 History
  • 7 Society and culture
    • 7.1 Economic costs
    • 7.2 Legal consequences
    • 7.3 Art
  • 8 See also
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links


Car insurance broker edmonton alberta A traffic collision from 1952 Temporary uk car insurance for foreign drivers A rolled over box truck being handled by fire fighters in Jakarta, Indonesia See also: Road collision types

Traffic collisions can be classified by general type. Types of collision include head-on, road departure, rear-end, side collisions, and rollovers.

Many different terms are commonly used to describe vehicle collisions. The World Health Organization use the term road traffic injury,[4] while the U.S. Census Bureau uses the term motor vehicle accidents (MVA),[5] and Transport Canada uses the term "motor vehicle traffic collision" (MVTC).[6] Other common terms include auto accident, car accident, car crash, car smash, car wreck, motor vehicle collision (MVC), personal injury collision (PIC), road accident, road traffic accident (RTA), road traffic collision (RTC), road traffic incident (RTI), road traffic accident and later road traffic collision, as well as more unofficial terms including smash-up, pile-up, and fender bender.

Some organizations have begun to avoid the term "accident". Although auto collisions are rare in terms of the number of vehicles on the road and the distance they travel, addressing the contributing factors can reduce their likelihood. For example, proper signage can decrease driver error and thereby reduce crash frequency by a third or more.[7] That is why these organizations prefer the term "collision" to "accident". In the UK the term "incident" is displacing "accident" in official and quasi-official use.[8][9]

Historically in the United States, use of terms other than "accidents" had been criticized for holding back safety improvements, based on the idea that a culture of blame may discourage the involved parties from fully disclosing the facts, and thus frustrate attempts to address the real root causes.[10]

Health effects


Following some collisions long lasting psychological problems may occur.[11] These issues may make those who have been in a crash afraid to drive again. In some cases, the psychological trauma may affect individuals' ability to work and take on family responsibilities.


A number of physical injuries can commonly result from the blunt force trauma caused by a collision, ranging from bruising and contusions to catastrophic physical injury (e.g., paralysis) or death.


A 1985 study by R. Kumar, using British and American crash reports as data, suggested 57% of crashes were due solely to driver factors, 27% to combined roadway and driver factors, 6% to combined vehicle and driver factors, 3% solely to roadway factors, 3% to combined roadway, driver, and vehicle factors, 2% solely to vehicle factors, and 1% to combined roadway and vehicle factors.[12] Reducing the severity of injury in crashes is more important than reducing incidence and ranking incidence by broad categories of causes is misleading regarding severe injury reduction. Vehicle and road modifications are generally more effective than behavioral change efforts with the exception of certain laws such as required use of seat belts, motorcycle helmets and graduated licensing of teenagers.[13]

Human factors

Car insurance in michigan expensive Man with visible facial scars resulting from a car accident

Human factors in vehicle collisions include all factors related to drivers and other road users that may contribute to a collision. Examples include driver behavior, visual and auditory acuity, decision-making ability, and reaction speed.

A 1985 report based on British and American crash data found driver error, intoxication and other human factors contribute wholly or partly to about 93% of crashes.[12]

Drivers distracted by mobile devices had nearly four times greater risk of crashing their cars than those who were not. Dialing a phone is the most dangerous distraction, increasing a drivers’ chance of crashing by 12 times, followed by reading or writing, which increased the risk by 10 times.[14]

An RAC survey of British drivers found that most[quantify] thought they were better than average drivers; a contradictory result showing overconfidence in their abilities.[citation needed] Nearly all drivers who had been in a crash did not believe themselves to be at fault.[15] One survey of drivers reported that they thought the key elements of good driving were:[16]

  • controlling a car including a good awareness of the car's size and capabilities
  • reading and reacting to road conditions, weather, road signs and the environment
  • alertness, reading and anticipating the behavior of other drivers.

Although proficiency in these skills is taught and tested as part of the driving exam, a 'good' driver can still be at a high risk of crashing because:

...the feeling of being confident in more and more challenging situations is experienced as evidence of driving ability, and that 'proven' ability reinforces the feelings of confidence. Confidence feeds itself and grows unchecked until something happens – a near-miss or an accident.[16]

An AXA survey concluded Irish drivers are very safety-conscious relative to other European drivers. However, this does not translate to significantly lower crash rates in Ireland.[17]

Accompanying changes to road designs have been wide-scale adoptions of rules of the road alongside law enforcement policies that included drink-driving laws, setting of speed limits, and speed enforcement systems such as speed cameras. Some countries' driving tests have been expanded to test a new driver's behavior during emergencies, and their hazard perception.

There are demographic differences in crash rates. For example, although young people tend to have good reaction times, disproportionately more young male drivers feature in collisions,[18] with researchers observing that many exhibit behaviors and attitudes to risk that can place them in more hazardous situations than other road users.[16] This is reflected by actuaries when they set insurance rates for different age groups, partly based on their age, sex, and choice of vehicle. Older drivers with slower reactions might be expected to be involved in more collisions, but this has not been the case as they tend to drive less and, apparently, more cautiously.[19] Attempts to impose traffic policies can be complicated by local circumstances and driver behavior. In 1969 Leeming warned that there is a balance to be struck when "improving" the safety of a road:[20]

Conversely, a location that does not look dangerous may have a high crash frequency. This is, in part, because if drivers perceive a location as hazardous, they take more care. Collisions may be more likely to happen when hazardous road or traffic conditions are not obvious at a glance, or where the conditions are too complicated for the limited human machine to perceive and react in the time and distance available. High incidence of crashes is not indicative of high injury risk. Crashes are common in areas of high vehicle congestion but fatal crashes occur disproportionately on rural roads at night when traffic is relatively light.

This phenomenon has been observed in risk compensation research, where the predicted reductions in collision rates have not occurred after legislative or technical changes. One study observed that the introduction of improved brakes resulted in more aggressive driving,[21] and another argued that compulsory seat belt laws have not been accompanied by a clearly attributed fall in overall fatalities.[22] Most claims of risk compensation offsetting the effects of vehicle regulation and belt use laws has been discredited by research using more refined data.[13]

In the 1990s, Hans Monderman's studies of driver behavior led him to the realization that signs and regulations had an adverse effect on a driver's ability to interact safely with other road users. Monderman developed shared space principles, rooted in the principles of the woonerven of the 1970s. He concluded that the removal of highway clutter, while allowing drivers and other road users to mingle with equal priority, could help drivers recognize environmental clues. They relied on their cognitive skills alone, reducing traffic speeds radically and resulting in lower levels of road casualties and lower levels of congestion.[23]

Some crashes are intended; staged crashes, for example, involve at least one party who hopes to crash a vehicle in order to submit lucrative claims to an insurance company.[24] In the USA in the 1990s, criminals recruited Latin immigrants to deliberately crash cars, usually by cutting in front of another car and slamming on the brakes. It was an illegal and risky job, and they were typically paid only $100. Jose Luis Lopez Perez, a staged crash driver, died after one such maneuver, leading to an investigation that uncovered the increasing frequency of this type of crash.[25]

Motor vehicle speed

Fine for no car insurance uk comparison Police car accident

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration review research on traffic speed in 1998.[26] The summary says:

  • The evidence shows the risk of having a crash is increased both for vehicles traveling slower than the average speed, and for those traveling above the average speed.
  • The risk of being injured increases exponentially with speeds much faster than the median speed.
  • The severity/lethality of a crash depends on the vehicle speed change at impact.
  • There is limited evidence suggesting lower speed limits result in lower speeds on a system-wide basis.
  • Most crashes related to speed involve speed too fast for the conditions.
  • More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of traffic calming.

The Road and Traffic Authority (RTA) of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) asserts speeding (traveling too fast for the prevailing conditions or above the posted speed limit[27]) is a factor in about 40 percent of road deaths.[28] The RTA also say speeding increases the risk of a crash and its severity.[28] On another web page, the RTA qualify their claims by referring to one specific piece of research from 1997, and writes "research has shown that the risk of a crash causing death or injury increases rapidly, even with small increases above an appropriately set speed limit."[29]

The contributory factor report in the official British road casualty statistics show for 2006, that "exceeding speed limit" was a contributory factor in 5% of all casualty crashes (14% of all fatal crashes), and "traveling too fast for conditions" was a contributory factor in 11% of all casualty crashes (18% of all fatal crashes).[30]

Driver impairment

Driver impairment describes factors that prevent the driver from driving at their normal level of skill. Common impairments include:

Alcohol Main article: Driving under the influence Car insurance aviva reviews of london Relative risk of collisions based on blood alcohol levels[31]

According to the Government of Canada, coroner reports from 2008 suggested almost 40% of fatally injured drivers consumed some quantity of alcohol before the collision.[32]

Physical impairment

Poor eyesight and/or physical impairment, with many jurisdictions setting simple sight tests and/or requiring appropriate vehicle modifications before being allowed to drive;


Insurance statistics demonstrate a notably higher incidence of collisions and fatalities among drivers aged in their teens or early twenties, with insurance rates reflecting this data. These drivers have the highest incidence of both collisions and fatalities among all driver age groups, a fact that was observed well before the advent of mobile phones.

Females in this age group exhibit somewhat lower collision and fatality rates than males but still register well above the median for drivers of all ages. Also within this group, the highest collision incidence rate occurs within the first year of licensed driving. For this reason many US states have enacted a zero-tolerance policy wherein receiving a moving violation within the first six months to one year of obtaining a license results in automatic license suspension. No US state allows fourteen year-olds to obtain drivers’ licenses any longer.

Old age

Old age, with some jurisdictions requiring driver retesting for reaction speed and eyesight after a certain age.

Sleep deprivation


Drug use

Including some prescription drugs, over the counter drugs (notably antihistamines, opioids and muscarinic antagonists), and illegal drugs.


Research suggests that the driver's attention is affected by distracting sounds such as conversations and operating a mobile phone while driving. Many jurisdictions now restrict or outlaw the use of some types of phone within the car. Recent research conducted by British scientists suggests that music can also have an effect; classical music is considered to be calming, yet too much could relax the driver to a condition of distraction. On the other hand, hard rock may encourage the driver to step on the acceleration pedal, thus creating a potentially dangerous situation on the road.[34]

Cell phone use is an increasingly significant problem on the roads.[citation needed] The U.S. National Safety Council compiled more than 30 studies postulating that hands-free is not a safer option, because the brain remains distracted by the conversation and cannot focus solely on the task of driving.[35]

Combinations of factors

Several conditions can combine to create a much worse situation, for example:

  • Combining low doses of alcohol and cannabis has a more severe effect on driving performance than either cannabis or alcohol in isolation,[36] or
  • Taking recommended doses of several drugs together, which individually do not cause impairment, may combine to bring on drowsiness or other impairment. This could be more pronounced in an elderly person whose renal function is less efficient than a younger person's.[37]

Thus there are situations when a person may be impaired, but still legally allowed to drive, and becomes a potential hazard to themselves and other road users. Pedestrians or cyclists are affected in the same way and can similarly jeopardize themselves or others when on the road.

Road design

Main articles: Highway engineering and Road safety Loan your car insurance A potential long fall stopped by an early guardrail, ca. 1920. Guardrails, median barriers, or other physical objects can help reduce the consequences of a collision or minimize damage.

A 1985 US study showed that about 34% of serious crashes had contributing factors related to the roadway or its environment. Most of these crashes also involved a human factor.[12] The road or environmental factor was either noted as making a significant contribution to the circumstances of the crash, or did not allow room to recover. In these circumstances it is frequently the driver who is blamed rather than the road; those reporting the collisions have a tendency to overlook the human factors involved, such as the subtleties of design and maintenance that a driver could fail to observe or inadequately compensate for.[38]

Research has shown that careful design and maintenance, with well-designed intersections, road surfaces, visibility and traffic control devices, can result in significant improvements in collision rates.

Individual roads also have widely differing performance in the event of an impact. In Europe there are now EuroRAP tests that indicate how "self-explaining" and forgiving a particular road and its roadside would be in the event of a major incident.

In the UK, research has shown that investment in a safe road infrastructure program could yield a ⅓ reduction in road deaths, saving as much as £6 billion per year.[39] A consortium of 13 major road safety stakeholders have formed the Campaign for Safe Road Design, which is calling on the UK Government to make safe road design a national transport priority.

Vehicle design and maintenance

Main article: Automobile safety Audi car finance auto insurance quote A 2005 Chevrolet Malibu involved in a rollover crash Seatbelts

Research has shown that, across all collision types, it is less likely that seat belts were worn in collisions involving death or serious injury, rather than light injury; wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death by about 45 percent.[40] Seat belt use is controversial, with notable critics such as Professor John Adams suggesting that their use may lead to a net increase in road casualties due to a phenomenon known as risk compensation.[41] However, actual observation of driver behaviors before and after seat belt laws does not support the risk compensation hypothesis. Several important driving behaviors were observed on the road before and after the belt use law was enforced in Newfoundland, and in Nova Scotia during the same period without a law. Belt use increased from 16 percent to 77 percent in Newfoundland and remained virtually unchanged in Nova Scotia. Four driver behaviors (speed, stopping at intersections when the control light was amber, turning left in front of oncoming traffic, and gaps in following distance) were measured at various sites before and after the law. Changes in these behaviors in Newfoundland were similar to those in Nova Scotia, except that drivers in Newfoundland drove slower on expressways after the law, contrary to the risk compensation theory.[42]


A well-designed and well-maintained vehicle, with good brakes, tires and well-adjusted suspension will be more controllable in an emergency and thus be better equipped to avoid collisions. Some mandatory vehicle inspection schemes include tests for some aspects of roadworthiness, such as the UK's MOT test or German TÜV conformance inspection.

The design of vehicles has also evolved to improve protection after collision, both for vehicle occupants and for those outside of the vehicle. Much of this work was led by automotive industry competition and technological innovation, leading to measures such as Saab's safety cage and reinforced roof pillars of 1946, Ford´s 1956 Lifeguard safety package, and Saab and Volvo's introduction of standard fit seatbelts in 1959. Other initiatives were accelerated as a reaction to consumer pressure, after publications such as Ralph Nader's 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed accused motor manufacturers of indifference towards safety.

In the early 1970s British Leyland started an intensive programme of vehicle safety research, producing a number of prototype experimental safety vehicles demonstrating various innovations for occupant and pedestrian protection such as air bags, anti-lock brakes, impact-absorbing side-panels, front and rear head restraints, run-flat tires, smooth and deformable front-ends, impact-absorbing bumpers, and retractable headlamps.[43] Design has also been influenced by government legislation, such as the Euro NCAP impact test.

Common features designed to improve safety include thicker pillars, safety glass, interiors with no sharp edges, stronger bodies, other active or passive safety features, and smooth exteriors to reduce the consequences of an impact with pedestrians.

The UK Department for Transport publish road casualty statistics for each type of collision and vehicle through its Road Casualties Great Britain report.[44] These statistics show a ten to one ratio of in-vehicle fatalities between types of car. In most cars, occupants have a 2–8% chance of death in a two-car collision.

Center of gravity Sadhu kokila car insurance An Opel Vectra involved in a rollover crash

Some crash types tend to have more serious consequences. Rollovers have become more common in recent years, perhaps due to increased popularity of taller SUVs, people carriers, and minivans, which have a higher center of gravity than standard passenger cars. Rollovers can be fatal, especially if the occupants are ejected because they were not wearing seat belts (83% of ejections during rollovers were fatal when the driver did not wear a seat belt, compared to 25% when they did).[40] After a new design of Mercedes Benz notoriously failed a 'moose test' (sudden swerving to avoid an obstacle), some manufacturers enhanced suspension using stability control linked to an anti-lock braking system to reduce the likelihood of rollover. After retrofitting these systems to its models in 1999–2000, Mercedes saw its models involved in fewer crashes.[45]

Now, about 40% of new US vehicles, mainly the SUVs, vans and pickup trucks that are more susceptible to rollover, are being produced with a lower center of gravity and enhanced suspension with stability control linked to its anti-lock braking system to reduce the risk of rollover and meet US federal requirements that mandate anti-rollover technology by September 2011.[46]


Motorcyclists have little protection other than their clothing and helmets. This difference is reflected in the casualty statistics, where they are more than twice as likely to suffer severely after a collision. In 2005 there were 198,735 road crashes with 271,017 reported casualties on roads in Great Britain. This included 3,201 deaths (1.1%) and 28,954 serious injuries (10.7%) overall. Of these casualties 178,302 (66%) were car users and 24,824 (9%) were motorcyclists, of whom 569 were killed (2.3%) and 5,939 seriously injured (24%).[47]


Other possibly hazardous factors that may alter a driver's soundness on the road includes:

  • Irritability,[48]
  • Following specifically distinct rules too bureaucratically, inflexibly or rigidly when unique circumstances might suggest otherwise[49]
  • Sudden swerving into somebody's blind spot without first clearly making oneself visible through the wing mirror[50]
  • Unfamiliarity with one's dashboard features, center console or other interior handling devices after a recent car purchase[51]
  • Lack of visibility due to windshield design or sun glare[52]
  • Distraction by scenery, a sexually attractive person or sexually suggestive advertising[53][54]


A large body of knowledge has been amassed on how to prevent car crashes, and reduce the severity of those that do occur. See Road Traffic Safety.

United Nations

Owing to the global and massive scale of the issue, with predictions that by 2020 road traffic deaths and injuries will exceed HIV/AIDS as a burden of death and disability,[55] the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies have passed resolutions and held conferences on the issue. The first United Nations General Assembly resolution and debate was in 2003[56] The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims was declared in 2005. In 2009 the first high level ministerial conference on road safety was held in Moscow.

The World Health Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations Organization, in its Global Status Report on Road Safety 2009, estimates that over 90% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low-income and middle-income countries, which have only 48% of the world’s registered vehicles, and predicts road traffic injuries will rise to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030[57]

Collision migration

Collisions migration refers to a situation where action to reduce road traffic collisions in one place may result in those collisions resurfacing elsewhere.[58] For example, an accident blackspot may occur at a dangerous bend.[59] The treatment for this may be to increase signage, post an advisory speed limit, apply a high-friction road surface, add crash barriers or any one of a number of other visible interventions. The immediate result may be to reduce collisions at the bend, but the subconscious relaxation on leaving the "dangerous" bend may cause drivers to act with fractionally less care on the rest of the road, resulting in an increase in collisions elsewhere on the road, and no overall improvement over the area. In the same way, increasing familiarity with the treated area will often result in a reduction over time to the previous level of care (regression to the mean) and may result in faster speeds around the bend due to perceived increased safety (risk compensation).


Main article: Epidemiology of motor vehicle collisions What car insurance to get on rental car Deaths for road traffic collisions per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012.[60]   no data   less than 5   5-10   10-15   15-20   20-25   25-30   30-35   35-40   more than 40 Multiple car insurance rates Road fatalities per vehicle-km (fatalities per 1 billion km)   no data   < 5.0   5.0-6.5   6.5-8.0   8.0-9.5   9.5-11.0   11.0-12.5   12.5-14.0   14.0-15.5   15.5-17.0   17.0-18.5   18.5-20.0   > 20.0

Road injuries resulted in 1.4 million deaths in 2013 up from 1.1 million deaths in 1990.[2] This is about 2.5% of all deaths.[2] In 2004 50 million more were injured in motor vehicle collisions.[4][61] India recorded 105,000 traffic deaths in a year, followed by China with over 96,000 deaths.[62] This makes motor vehicle collisions the leading cause of injury and death among children worldwide 10 – 19 years old (260,000 children die a year, 10 million are injured)[63] and the sixth leading preventable cause of death in the United States[64] (45,800 people died and 2.4 million were injured in 2005).[65] In the state of Texas alone, there were a total of 415,892 traffic collisions, including 3,005 fatal crashes in 2012. In Canada they are the cause of 48% of severe injuries.[66]

Crash rates

The safety performance of roadways is almost always reported as a rate. That is, some measure of harm (deaths, injuries, or number of crashes) divided by some measure of exposure to the risk of this harm. Rates are used so the safety performance of different locations can be compared, and to prioritize safety improvements.

Common rates related to road traffic fatalities include the number of deaths per capita, per registered vehicle, per licensed driver, or per vehicle mile or kilometer traveled. Simple counts are almost never used. The annual count of fatalities is a rate, namely, the number of fatalities per year.

There is no one rate that is superior to others in any general sense. The rate to be selected depends on the question being asked – and often also on what data are available. What is important is to specify exactly what rate is measured and how it relates to the problem being addressed. Some agencies concentrate on crashes per total vehicle distance traveled. Others combine rates. The U.S. state of Iowa, for example, selects high collision locations based on a combination of crashes per million miles traveled, crashes per mile per year, and value loss (crash severity).[67]


The definition of a road-traffic fatality varies from country to country. In the United States, the definition used in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)[68] run by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a person who dies within 30 days of a crash on a US public road involving a vehicle with an engine, the death being the result of the crash. In the U.S., therefore, if a driver has a non-fatal heart attack that leads to a road-traffic crash that causes death, that is a road-traffic fatality. However, if the heart attack causes death prior to the crash, then that is not a road-traffic fatality.

The definition of a road-traffic fatality can change with time in the same country. For example, fatality was defined in France as a person who dies in the 6 days (pre 2005) after the collision and was subsequently changed to the 30 days (post 2005) after the collision.[69]


Does my insurance cover rental car state farm The fardier à vapeur of Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot allegedly crashed into a wall in 1771.[70]

The world’s first road traffic death involving a motor vehicle is alleged to have occurred on 31 August 1869.[71] Irish scientist Mary Ward died when she fell out of her cousins' steam car and was run over by it.

The British road engineer J. J. Leeming, compared the statistics for fatality rates in Great Britain, for transport-related incidents both before and after the introduction of the motor vehicle, for journeys, including those once by water that now are undertaken by motor vehicle:[20] For the period 1863–1870 there were: 470 fatalities per million of population (76 on railways, 143 on roads, 251 on water); for the period 1891–1900 the corresponding figures were: 348 (63, 107, 178); for the period 1931–1938: 403 (22, 311, 70) and for the year 1963: 325 (10, 278, 37).[20] Leeming concluded that the data showed that "travel accidents may even have been more frequent a century ago than they are now, at least for men".[20]

Car insurance categories list uk insurance Truck collision with house in Compstall, United Kingdom (1914)

In 1969, a British road engineer compared the circumstances around road deaths as reported in various American states before the widespread introduction of 55 mph (89 km/h) speed limits and drunk-driving laws.[20]

'They took into account thirty factors which it was thought might affect the death rate. Among these were included the annual consumption of wine, of spirits and of malt beverages — taken individually — the amount spent on road maintenance, the minimum temperature, certain of the legal measures such as the amount spent on police, the number of police per 100,000 inhabitants, the follow-up programme on dangerous drivers, the quality of driver testing, and so on. The thirty factors were finally reduced to six by eliminating those found to have small or negligible effect. The final six were:

  • (a) The percentage of the total state highway mileage that is rural
  • (b) The percent increase in motor vehicle registration
  • (c) The extent of motor vehicle inspection
  • (d) The percentage of state-administered highway that is surfaced
  • (e) The average yearly minimum temperature
  • (f) The income per capita

'These are placed in descending order of importance. These six accounted for 70% of the variations in the rate.'

Society and culture

Economic costs

The global economic cost of MVCs was estimated at $518 billion per year in 2003, and $100 billion in developing countries.[61] The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the U.S. cost in 2000 at $230 billion.[72] A 2010 US report estimated costs of $277 billion which included lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. "The value of societal harm from motor vehicle crashes, which includes both economic impacts and valuation for lost quality-of-life, was $870.8 billion in 2010. Sixty-eight percent of this value represents lost quality-of-life, while 32 percent is economic impacts."[73]

Legal consequences

See also: Vehicle insurance and Hit and run § Country-specific penalties

In the United States, individuals involved in motor vehicle collisions can be held financially liable for the consequences of an collision, including property damage, injuries to passengers and drivers, and fatalities. In addition, some states allow recovery for the diminished value of the vehicle from the at-fault driver's insurance company. Because these costs can easily exceed the annual income of the average driver, most US states require drivers to carry liability insurance to cover these potential costs. However, in the event of severe injuries or fatalities, victims may seek damages in civil court, often for well in excess of the value of insurance.

Additionally, drivers who are involved in a collision frequently receive one or more traffic citations, usually directly addressing any material violations such as speeding, failure to obey a traffic control device, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In the event of a fatality, a charge of vehicular homicide is occasionally prosecuted, especially in cases involving alcohol.

Convictions for traffic violations are usually penalized with fines, and for more severe offenses, the suspension or revocation of driving privileges. Convictions for alcohol offenses generally result in the revocation or long term suspension of the driver's license, and sometimes jail time and/or mandatory alcohol rehabilitation.

Due to increase in availability of cable news and internet news, exposure to such legal actions has increased in recent years, specifically with coverage of cases and class action suits concerning SUV rollovers and recent incidents of sudden acceleration crashes highlighted by the 2010 Toyota Recall. Increased exposure has led to larger class action suits, and automobile owners' ability to link their collision causes and issues to ones in other regions has spread knowledge of external causes.

Sometimes, people may make false insurance claims or commit insurance fraud by staging collisions or jumping in front of moving cars.[74]


Fiqa car insurance American Landscape by Jan A. Nelson (graphite on Strathmore rag, 1974)

Cars have come to represent a part of the American Dream of ownership coupled with the freedom of the road. The violence of a car wreck provides a counterpoint to that promise and is the subject of artwork by a number of artists, such as John Salt, Jan Anders Nelson, and Li Yan. Though English, John Salt was drawn to American landscapes of wrecked vehicles like Desert Wreck (airbrushed oil on linen, 1972).[75] Similarly, Jan Anders Nelson works with the wreck in its resting state in junkyards or forests, or as elements in his paintings and drawings. American Landscape [76] is one example of Nelson´s focus on the violence of the wreck with cars and trucks piled into a heap, left to the forces of nature and time. This recurring theme of violence is echoed in the work of Li Yan. His painting Accident Nº 6 looks at the energy released during a crash.[77][78][79]

Andy Warhol used newspaper pictures of car wrecks with dead occupants in a number of his Disaster series of silkscreened canvases.[80] John Chamberlain used components of wrecked cars (such as bumpers and crumpled sheet metal fenders) in his welded sculptures.[81]

See also

  • Accident management
  • Assured Clear Distance Ahead
  • Black ice
  • Crash test
  • Crashworthiness
  • Defensive driving
  • Forensic engineering
  • Global road safety for workers
  • Hill jumping
  • List of countries by traffic-related death rate
  • List of traffic collisions
  • Multiple-vehicle collision
  • Roadkill
  • Roadside memorial
  • Skid mark
  • Solomon curve
  • Totaled
  • Transportation safety in the United States
  • Tree squirrel (as traffic hazard)
  • Underride collision
  • Unsafe at Any Speed
  • Vehicular accident reconstruction
  • Vehicle extrication
  • Work-related road safety in the United States


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How Accidents Affect Auto Insurance

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An accident affects car insurance in different ways depending on certain details of the accident, as well as each insurer's underwriting guidelines. Not always will there be a negative impact on the policy premium; however, rates may be increased or a policy may be non-renewed if an accident is classified as chargeable. Motorists who see inflated premiums following accidents may want to compare quotes to see if a cheaper rate is available.

Compare Car Insurance Quotes After an Accident

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Accidents are classified based on a few factors:

  • Was the accident at-fault? - If a policyholder is not considered to be at fault, most likely the rates will not be increased. In the other hand, being at fault in an accident will impact rates depending on the company's underwriting guidelines. It may cause a policyholder to lose their good driver discount which ranges in the area of 20%. If there was only one vehicle involved, usually the accident will be considered to be chargeable unless it was caused by some kind of debris on the road or by a collision with nature's objects such as a falling tree, an animal etc. To determine fault, a police report will usually indicate the at-fault party. Without a police report, insurance companies may investigate through witness reports and driver statements. Usually, if both drivers are found liable or 50% at fault, both drivers would be considered at-fault.
  • Were there any injuries involved? - Whether or not there were injuries involved will also have different impacts on rates. If one was at fault but there were no injuries, it would have less of an impact than if there were. A "letter of experience" from a carrier will indicate whether there were any bodily injury payouts. Sometimes the police report may be acceptable proof of no-injury; however, not all companies will accept it since persons may not feel injured until a couple days later.
  • Was the accident as a result of a collision with an emergency vehicle, such as an ambulance or police car? If there was a collision with an emergency vehicle, sometimes it will be considered non-fault because those type of vehicles sometimes disobey traffic regulations in order to rush to an emergency situation. In that case it shouldn't have an impact on rates.
  • Were any drivers under the influence? If a driver involved in an accident was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it will be considered a "major violation" and may cause a bigger impact on premiums since it will be in conjunction with a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated).
  • Was the amount of damage under $750 in damage? An accident may be dismissed or non-chargeable if the property damages were under a certain amount, usually $750 in damage; however, the amount may vary within carriers. Usually when there is insignificant damage to the vehicles (fender benders), no injuries are involved and rates are not impacted.
  • How long ago was the accident? If an accident occurred more than three years ago, usually it will be not be considered chargeable since guidelines usually dismiss them after a certain time. Check with the insurer to see how long until they dismiss them.
  • Was there a citation issued? Usually the driver who receives a citation when involved in a accident will be considered to be at fault for breaking traffic laws. This, however, does not apply for violations such as "unregistered vehicle" or other non-moving violations.
  • How many accidents within the past 3 years? The number of accidents one is involved in also determines impact. Multiple accidents within a certain period may cause non-renewal and significant rate increases.
Drivers who have been involved in accident shouldn't over worry about how it will affect their rates. If premiums happen to increase, one may simply buy auto insurance from another carrier who will offer lower rates.

The best way to find affordable rates, even with tickets or accidents, is to compare auto insurance from multiple companies in order to narrow down the company who will insure for less.

Visit OnlineAutoInsurance to get free auto insurance quotes online from multiple companies with one simple process and with no obligations to purchase.

Questions on Accidents Affecting Insurance Rates

  • How Do Auto Insurance Deductibles Work?A deductible on a car insurance policy is a pre-determined amount of money that the policyholders must pay before their insurer will cover a claim. Deductibles generally only apply to comprehensive and collision coverage (if you purchased them). Comp/collision coverage apply to a number of ...
  • Does Car Insurance Cover Property Damages at Home?Accidents can happen at any time and at any place, and your home is no exception. The answer to whether or not damages caused at home will be covered is yes, if you have the right coverage. The different parts and coverages on car insurance policies are designed to...
  • Will Health Insurance Cover My Injuries from Car Accidents?Sorting out the medical bills after an accident can become a headache, especially when there are multiple parties involved. Generally, health insurance policies will kick in and provide coverage, but only after all other auto-related coverages have been exhausted. So it's not...
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News about Accidents and Their Effects

  • Electric Cars a Mixed Bag in First Front-Corner Crash TestsJuly 31, 2014 - Results were so-so for two small electric car models that underwent their first-ever front-corner crash tests, according to a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report. The plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt got an "acceptable" rating, and the EV Nissan Leaf got a "poor" rating in ...
  • Mich. Crash Case Raises Questions about Insurance on ScootersJuly 30, 2014 - People in Michigan who use scooters and motorized wheelchairs could be required to get car insurance if courts rule in favor of the insurer in an ongoing case. The court case could have implications for thousands of users of scooters and motorized wheelchairs in the state ...
  • Car Recalls: What to Do and the Importance of the Recall NoticeJuly 14, 2014 - There have been a record-breaking number of vehicles recalled in the U.S. this year, according to Bloomberg News, so here's a piece of advice for drivers that especially relevant now: If you get a recall notice, don't ignore it. Beyond that, it might be prudent to research your car model to see if there's a recall issued for it. A recent study ...
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Articles on Accidents and Auto Insurance Rates

  • An Auto Insurance Guide: Potholes More Common After Severe WinterJune 19, 2014 - That harsh winter that hit parts of the U.S. is months gone, but it left something for drivers: potholes. In April, a New York Times article named the winter "onslaught this year" as the reason for "pockmarked lunar landscapes rarely seen" in the Empire State. If you're an unfortunate motorist who's driven...
  • Auto Insurance in Unlikely (and Unsavory) PlacesDecember 03, 2013 - In this entry, we review instances where the commonplace topic of auto insurance is invoked in unsavory situations. A change of location can be hard. For one carjacking victim, it was literally hell on wheels. WTVM reported from Columbus, Ga., where new resident Richard Dudley...
  • Driving in Old Age: Liberty Mutual Tries to Jump-start Dialogue with 'Age Suit'November 08, 2013 - Federal officials estimate that the elderly population (those 65 years or older) is about 40 million, by their latest count. With the figure estimated to hit 72 million by 2030, more and more American families will be having (or trying to have) the conversation with elderly drivers about handing over their keys and giving up their driving privileges...
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Resources for Accidents' Affect on Car Insurance

  • WV Insurance Officials: $52 Mil Spent on Deer-Vehicle Claims in 2010
  • Minn. Car Insurance Regulators Advise Consumers on the Claims Process
  • PA Insurance Officials Warn Drivers Deer-Vehicle Collisions Peak in Nov.
  • Maine Officials Give Advice on the Car Insurance Claims Process


Accidents are the reason you bought car insurance.

Instead of losing your car because of a moment’s inattention, it will be repaired or replaced. Instead of facing a battery of lawyers yourself, you have an experienced insurance company to represent you. Instead of trying to find a body shop and manage a repair, you have experts in collision damage overseeing the process.

You may move quickly from gratitude to worry when you realize there’s a price to be paid. An auto accident can leave your rates untouched, or it can result in a surcharge that inflates your car insurance bill for years to come.

If your car was determined a total loss after an accident, read our guide on what to do with a totaled car.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we get about car accidents and the types of car insurance needed to make everything right.

What should I do after an accident? What information should I exchange?

State laws vary, but in general the steps to take after an accident include the following:

Stop at once. Position your car so that you don’t needlessly block or endanger others. If you drive off from the scene, it will be considered a hit-and-run, which is a serious infraction in most states.

Check to see if anyone is injured. Some states require that you render reasonable aid if anyone is injured, but don’t do anything that could cause further injuries.

Call the police for a report. Insurers like to have a police report if possible, and it’s required in many states. If you have a minor parking lot accident, the police may not have time to come to the scene, but you will be able to tell your insurer that you did make the call.

Exchange information. The basic rule of thumb is to exchange the following information with the other driver:

  • Name
  • Name of the owner if not the same as the driver
  • Names of any passengers
  • Vehicle’s make, model and license plate number
  • Insurance information – company name, policy number and phone number to call for claims

You are not required to show your driver's license, proof of insurance or your contact information to anyone but the police. You do not need to ask for that information from anyone else.

We’d also suggest that you:

Find witnesses. Get their names and phone numbers. Encourage them to stay until law enforcement comes so that their statements can be taken down. Independent witnesses tend to give an unbiased description of how the accident happened, which insurance companies like.

Take pictures. If possible, take photos of the damage to each car and the whole accident scene. If you have a phone that takes good-quality pictures, use it. If you don’t, keep a digital camera in the glove box. A picture can be worth a thousand words when making an insurance claim.

Check with your department of motor vehicles (DMV) to find out what’s required after an accident. Some states require an accident report if there are any injuries and/or property damage over a certain monetary threshold.

Who contacts the insurance company after an accident?

The drivers and others who are filing claims contact the insurance companies that are involved.

If the other driver was at fault, contact his or her insurer to make your claim. Also, contact your own insurer if your policy requires it, or if you are making any claims under your own coverages.

If you were at fault, contact your car insurance company to notify them of the accident. Advise your insurer if others likely will be calling to file claims or if you need to file one.

The police and DMV don’t call your car insurance company and tattle on you.

Who determines who is responsible for the accident?

Both law enforcement and insurance companies make determinations on who is at fault, or if both drivers are partially at fault.

For the purpose of being ticketed and facing penalties for traffic violations, the police will determine who did what and charge the drivers accordingly. For the insurance companies involved, a claims adjuster will be appointed and decide fault. The police and the insurance companies don’t always agree on fault; for claim purposes, the insurance companies go by the decisions of their respective adjusters. Many people find it intimidating to speak with the adjuster. Read our page on insurance claims for tips on how to deal with insurance adjusters.

It may be that one driver is found to be fully at fault and will thus be liable for all damages, or both drivers may be found partially at fault for the incident. If both drivers are found at fault, then state negligence laws will determine whose insurance pays what.

No-fault insurance applies only to bodily injuries. Your personal injury protection (PIP) pays for your own medical bills, but if the other driver was at fault, his liability coverage would pay for damage to your car.

What type of accident is considered to be a collision?

An accident is typically claimed under collision coverage when your car hits or is hit by another car or object, regardless of fault. Upset of your car, such as flipping your vehicle or rolling down an embankment, is also a collision claim.

Hitting another vehicle or an inanimate object like a tree, pole, house, fence, etc., all would be considered a collision accident claim.

What type of accident is considered to be comprehensive?

An accident that is “other than collision” is considered comprehensive if it is covered by your car insurance policy. Damages to your vehicle from fire, vandalism or theft are comprehensive claims. Damages from natural occurrences, such as floodwaters, high winds and hail, are covered by comprehensive coverages.

Also, making contact with an animal is a comprehensive claim. So, if your accident is with a dog, deer, cow or bird, it will be considered a comprehensive claim.

Does an accident affect my car insurance rates? If so, for how long?

An accident’s effect on your rates depends upon the circumstances of the accident and how many claims you’ve had in recent years.

Comprehensive claims are less likely to be your fault, so they typically won’t raise your rates. Collision claims are more likely to hike up your rates.

If you’re at fault, it’s your first accident and damages are minor, it may eliminate your good driver discount, but not much else. If you weren’t at fault and the claims were through the other party’s insurance, it likely won’t affect you either. If, however, you’ve already made a few claims in a short period of time, any type of claim may affect your rates since you appear to the insurer to be accident-prone.

For example, some car insurance companies won’t impose a surcharge if the accident didn’t cause damage or injury in excess of $1,000, unless you have had two or more of this type of accident within the last three years.

State insurance laws also come into play. Some states allow insurers to surcharge drivers only for certain types of accidents or if damages were over a certain monetary amount.

An accident typically will affect your rates anywhere from three to five years; it depends upon state laws and the guidelines of your car insurance company.

How long does an accident stay on my record?

It varies by state. In some states, accidents don’t even go on your driving record, or only appear if you were deemed at fault and ticketed for a traffic infraction. In other states, accidents go on your record and stay anywhere from one to five years. You’ll have to contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to find out if the accident will go on your record and how long it will stay there.

If I don’t report an accident, does my insurance company know?

If there is no police report, nothing noted on your driving record and you paid out of pocket for any damages you caused, it would be unlikely that your insurer would know about a minor accident you were in. That's also true if you were in an unreported single-car accident that resulted in no claims.

If there are claims involved, your car insurance company will know about the accident even if you don’t get a police report or personally notify your insurer of the incident. When claims are paid out, auto insurance providers place the claims information into a central database.

When you apply for a new policy with a new insurer, it, too, will obtain your claims history, and see any previous accidents and claims you had.


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