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Safety first: The top reasons for road collisions in the UK

The leading cause of road collisions is driver and rider’s errors or reactions.

A bear eats a sandwich thrown by a passing driver, who films the animal with his mobile phone
A bear eats a sandwich thrown by a passing driver, who films the animal with his mobile phone - Copyright AFP Ozan KOSE
A bear eats a sandwich thrown by a passing driver, who films the animal with his mobile phone - Copyright AFP Ozan KOSE

The most common cause of road collisions is driver and rider errors or reactions with 985 crashes between 2012 and 2021, according to a new assessment of accident statistics.  Failing to properly observe the road and surroundings is the second leading cause of road collisions. After this, behaviour or inexperience ranks as the third most significant reason.

This is based on a review performed by OneSureInsurance and provided to Digital Journal. The findings reveal that the most common reason for road collisions in the UK is driver and rider’s errors or reactions.

The data is drawn from information collated by the Department for Transport for the UK, from 2012 to 2021, to discover which contributory factor were the top causes of reported road collisions and casualties.

The leading cause of road collisions with 650,506 crashes from 2012 to 2021 is driver and rider’s errors or reactions. Distracted driving, impaired judgment, and reckless behaviour significantly contribute to this category.

In second comes the driver and rider’s failure to look properly, with this being the cause of 375,594 collisions in the 10 years leading to 2021. Examples of practical behaviours that fall into this category are neglecting to check blind spots, misjudging distances, and failing to yield the right of way.

Behaviour or inexperience is the third most common reason for collisions with 221,483 occurrences. Behavioural issues, including aggressive driving, impatience, and inexperience, are significant contributors to road collisions. Moreover, novice drivers and riders, often lacking the skills to handle challenging situations, are particularly vulnerable.

The top ten reasons are:

Top 10 most common reasons for a collision in the UK
RankContributory factor reported in accidentTotal (2012-2021)
1Driver/Rider error or reaction650,506
2Driver/Rider failed to look properly376,594
3Behaviour or inexperience221,483
4Injudicious action203,312
5Driver/Rider failed to judge other person`s path or speed194,392
6Driver/Rider careless, reckless or in a hurry155,750
7Poor turn or manoeuvre130,793
8Impairment or distraction128,647
9Road environment contributed115,299
10Loss of control115,128

Further down on the list, injudicious actions, such as sudden lane changes, improper overtaking, and aggressive driving, are the fourth most common reason for collisions with 203,312 occurrences.

The top five closes with 194,392 collisions caused by the driver or rider’s failure to accurately judge the path or speed of other vehicles. Building these as learning points into driver instruction programs would be a start on the road towards reducing vehicle traffic accidents.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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