Causes of Car Accidents in California

Causes of Car Accidents in California


The causes of the numerous car accidents that occur in California each year can vary significantly. There are various factors that can ultimately lead to collisions resulting in injuries to victims.

Some of the most prevalent causes of car crashes include:

• Speeding:

When a driver surpasses the speed limit or drives faster than the prevailing conditions permit, it significantly heightens the likelihood of an accident transpiring. Moreover, it puts everyone on the road at risk.

• Driving under the influence:

Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) can be catastrophic, as it compromises the driver’s reflexes and decision-making abilities. This poses a severe threat to safety.

• Distracted driving:

When drivers become distracted, their attention is diverted from the road, thereby creating hazardous situations. Distractions can include mobile phone usage, conversing with passengers, eating, drinking, and more.

• Running red lights:

Presently, it is quite common to witness impatient drivers running red lights in California. Such actions can create extremely dangerous situations, particularly at intersections.

• Turning across traffic:

Improper turns constitute a major peril on California roads. This involves drivers making turns without having the right of way, especially left turns across oncoming traffic.

– Failing to account for weather conditions can have serious consequences. Although California doesn’t experience a lot of inclement weather, rare rainfall can make the roads slippery and dangerous. Drivers who fail to adjust their driving style accordingly not only jeopardize their own safety but also put others at risk.

– Vehicle defects can be a significant factor contributing to car accidents and injuries. Design or manufacturing flaws in the vehicles themselves have been known to lead to unfortunate incidents. Some notable examples include sudden unintended acceleration and airbags that fail to deploy, which are discussed further in this guide.


– Road maintenance and design defects can also play a role in accidents. Poorly designed roads can force drivers into hazardous situations, while a lack of maintenance, such as neglecting to fill in potholes, can result in tire blowouts and crashes.


– Lack of visibility is a common issue that drivers face in certain crash cases. Driving at night, adverse weather conditions like rain or fog, or even eyesight problems on the part of the driver can significantly impair visibility. This limitation can increase the likelihood of accidents occurring.


– Recklessness and lack of care contribute greatly to car accidents. Many tragic incidents are caused by drivers who fail to exercise due care and attention. For instance, changing lanes on a freeway without looking or signaling first is an extremely reckless behavior that can easily result in sideswipe accidents.

– Tailgating, or driving too closely behind another vehicle, is an all-too-common sight on the roads. This behavior poses a significant risk as the tailgating driver may not be able to react in time if the leading car suddenly brakes. Consequently, rear-end collisions often occur due to inadequate following distance.

What to Do After a Car Crash:

So, you have been involved in a car crash. Perhaps another driver rear-ended you at a red light, or a car t-boned yours at an intersection. What should you do now?


Let’s start from the very beginning – what to do seconds after the crash happens – and go through the various steps in manageable increments.


Our objective is to ensure that you know how to react safely and pursue justice after a crash. This includes guiding you through the evidence you need to document at the scene and providing advice on how to communicate with the insurance company afterwards. We’ll also cover what NOT to do.

First and foremost, you MUST stop at the scene. Even if you believe the other driver was at fault, failing to stop at the scene of an accident could be considered a hit and run. Next, follow these steps:


• Step 1: Prioritize safety

If your car is still operational, move it off the street or to the side of the road to ensure the safety of other drivers. If the wreckage is in an unsafe position but cannot be moved, try to exit the vehicle and move to a safe area.


However, if you have been injured in the collision and require urgent medical attention, try to remain still until emergency services arrive.


Note: In some cases, your vehicle may be damaged and leaking fluids. The decision to move an injured individual must be carefully weighed against the risk of them staying in the car.


• Step 2: Contact the authorities

Always call the police after a crash. We will provide more details on how to contact the authorities later in this guide (Section 5, p14).

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the location, and the workload of the officers in the area, the police may or may not come to the scene. If they do arrive, follow their instructions and file a report.


• Step 3: Communicate with the other driver(s)

Once you are in a safe position and no longer in immediate danger, it’s time to have a conversation with the other driver. We will offer more information on how to approach this discussion later in the guide (Section 6, p17).


Exchange contact details with them and ensure you take a picture of their driver’s license, vehicle plates, and insurance information.


• Step 4: Gather evidence

It is crucial to collect as much evidence from the accident scene as possible. We will dedicate a section to this step later in the guide (Section 7, p19).


Take photographs or videos of anything related to the crash, such as the damaged vehicles. This becomes essential when you need to make an insurance claim or file a lawsuit.


• Step 5: Seek medical attention

If you have suffered severe injuries in the accident, you will likely be transported to a nearby hospital by ambulance, rendering the other steps irrelevant in this guide.


If you are not taken to the hospital, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible, even if your injuries are relatively minor.

No two car accidents are exactly the same. Some crashes will simply leave the victim shaken, while others will cause serious damage or major injuries – from whiplash and broken bones to permanent spinal cord damage.

Do you have to report a car accident to the police in California?

According to California law (Vehicle Code section 20008), you must report an accident to the police if it has caused injury or death. This means that you must report a crash to the police, even if it only resulted in minor injuries. However, if a crash resulted solely in property damage, you are not required to contact the police or file a report. Property damage could include damage to a vehicle, personal item, or structure. In the event of property damage, a separate law (Section 20002) requires you to either find the owner of the damaged property and identify yourself, or leave a note.


If there has been an injury, the law requires you to inform the police within 24 hours of the incident, but it is generally best to call them right away.


In case of a car accident, you should dial 911 to speak to local police dispatchers. If the accident is serious, the police will coordinate with paramedics and ensure that an ambulance is also sent to the scene.


It’s important to note that not all areas are covered by a city police force. If you are involved in a collision in an unincorporated area in California, such as areas outside Los Angeles or the Inland Empire, you should still call the police and ask for guidance.


Due to stretched police resources, especially in larger cities across California, a police officer may not always be able to attend a crash scene. Whether a police officer can respond will depend on the severity of the accident, whether it has created a road hazard, the condition of those involved, and the current level of police activity. When speaking to a police dispatcher, it is crucial to answer their questions clearly and concisely. Always follow their instructions, whether they tell you to stay at the scene and wait for an officer to arrive or to exchange details with the other driver and then leave.

If you are instructed to wait for authorities to arrive, you must comply. However, in some cases, the negligent party may insist on leaving before the police arrive. If this happens, it is important to take down identifying details from them before they leave. More information on this subject can be found in the next section (Section 6, page 17).


Once at the scene of a car accident, it becomes a police officer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone involved, handle the aftermath of the crash, and document the incident. This may involve cordoning off the area and arranging for debris to be removed from the road surface, while redirecting traffic to avoid potential hazards. Officers will examine the positions of the vehicles and may take pictures of the scene. They are likely to interview all parties involved, as well as any witnesses. You may be asked questions by the officer or instructed to fill out a report of the incident.


In some cases, the police officer may determine who is at fault based on their examination of the scene. A copy of the police report can be requested later as evidence.

Once the police have given their approval, you may leave the scene.

By Denizan

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