What causes road accidents?
Road accidents are very common and can have devastating impacts on those involved. They don't just affect car drivers – pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users due to the lack of protection from other vehicles.
Sometimes accidents are unavoidable, but being aware of the main causes can help you take care when driving to reduce the risk of an accident happening. Below, we've listed some common causes:
- Speeding and reckless driving
- Using a mobile phone while driving
- Drunk or drug driving
- Poor weather conditions
- Poorly maintained road surfaces
- Driving while tired
- Distractions such as eating, smoking, listening to loud music
Always stop when involved in a road accident
If you've been involved in a road accident, it's illegal not to stop if people are injured, an animal has been hit, or someone else's property has been damaged.
It's a criminal offence if you don't stop, even if the accident wasn't your fault.
If the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident doesn't stop or tries to leave the scene, then you should call the police to report this.
Straight after being involved in a road accident, it's very important to check whether everyone involved is okay. If anybody is injured and needs immediate medical attention, call an ambulance.
Unless you're completely sure you're okay, you should see a doctor or visit a hospital to check your injuries and to get treatment.
It's also common to suffer from shock after a car accident, and this can make you think you're okay when you may actually be injured. Shock can also take a while to settle in, so it may be that you suffer shock once you've got home following your accident, or even while driving.
We recommend taking extra care if you've been involved in even a minor accident, and if you can we suggest getting somebody to pick you and your car up to avoid delayed shock affecting your journey home.
It's a completely natural reaction to feel the need to apologise after being involved in a car accident, but doing so could affect your insurance and compensation claims so it's best not to admit fault at this stage.
We realise that it may not always be possible for you to exchange details at the scene of an accident, especially if you've been injured or your accident was serious. Your priority should always be making sure you're okay.
We also know that it can be difficult to remember what details to note down. If you're able to, you should try to make a note of the following information about the other driver:
- Name, address, telephone number
- Name of their insurance company and policy number
- Their car registration number
If there were any witnesses, then it's a good idea to ask for their contact details so that you can get their account of what happened later on. This can help when it comes to making a claim.
For the same reason, you should take the name, address and telephone number of anyone else involved in the accident, including passengers.
If you weren't able to give your details to anybody at the scene of the accident, or you can't get in contact with the owner of the damaged property, you should report your accident to the police within 24 hours.
It's also important to tell your motor insurance company that you've had an accident as soon as possible.
Fussing around gathering information when you've just been involved in an accident is probably the last thing you feel like doing. But if you're able to get as much information as possible, this can make things easier later on.
The shock of a road accident can mean it's very easy to forget the details of a road accident after it's happened, so it's important that you make some notes while the memory is still fresh in your mind – this could help when it comes to making a claim.
If you can, once you've taken the details of everyone involved in the accident, we recommend gathering the following information:
- Weather conditions – is it rain that caused the road to become slippery and wet?
- Details of the other vehicle involved – make, model, colour condition, number of passengers
- Photographs - of the damage, the vehicles involved and the site of the crash in general
- Time and date of the accident
- What direction the vehicles were travelling in – it can be useful to draw a quick sketch of what happened
Make a road accident claim
If you or a loved one was injured in the accident, then we know how much of an impact this can have on your life. Recovering after a road accident can be emotionally and physically painful.
Your injury may also have had an impact on your finances, as you may have lost earnings due to taking time off work, or you might have had to pay for expensive private medical treatment such as physiotherapy.
We're here to help you. We have over 25 years' experience in helping people to make personal injury claims and we've seen how compensation can help to take away the financial pressure so that you can focus on your recovery.
Generally speaking, you may be able to make a claim if:
- Your accident happened within the last three years
- You or a loved one was injured in the accident
- The accident was someone else's fault
The easiest way to find out whether you can make a claim is to get in touch with our legally trained advisors on for free. Alternatively, you can fill in our short form below to arrange a call back.
You can also try our claim checker. It will ask some simple questions and let you know whether you might have a claim, without the need to get in contact with us before you're ready.
Read more about making a road accident claim.
How to tell who's at fault for a road accident
We know it can be very difficult to tell who's at fault for your road accident. The insurance companies will make the final decision as to who caused the accident, but there are a few ways you can tell earlier on.
If the other driver has broken the law in any way, then it's likely they'll be found to be at fault – for example, if they drove through red lights or broke the speed limit.
On the other hand, if you hit another driver from behind then the accident is more likely to be your fault. This is because Rule 126 of the Highway Code states that you should leave enough space between you and the car in front (a two-second gap) so you can stop safely in an emergency.
To avoid problems further down the line, it's best to avoid making an apology after an accident. Although this isn't always the same as accepting blame, it might be used against you by the other party's insurance company.