4 Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in Philadelphia

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Car accidents occur in so many different, overlapping ways.  Because of this, most statistics deal with contributing causes of car accidents, rather than pinning-down one, singular cause in any car accident.  There are many studies dealing with the most common causes, and many studies agree on some of these causes.  The Philadelphia car accident injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm discuss some of these most common causes of car crashes in Philadelphia, and explain the legal issues surrounding these types of accidents.

Common Contributing Causes of PA Car Accidents

Philadelphia’s roads include tight city streets as well as heavily-traveled highways.  Because of this, Philly’s car crashes run the gamut of various causes and contributing factors.  Overall, the following causes are some of the most common causes that apply to many accidents across the city and throughout Pennsylvania.  Many statistics referenced throughout this article come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a branch of the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

Distracted Driving

The NHTSA’s “Distracted Driving 2016” publication is the most recent government study on distracted driving.  It states that 9% of all fatal crashes in the US in 2016 dealt with distracted driving.  That means a total of 3,450 deaths due to distracted driving, of the 37,461 total fatalities in 2016.  This can include simple distractions like fiddling with the radio, talking to someone in the car, eating while driving, or even daydreaming and failing to pay attention.  However, one of the most common issues that plagues drivers is cell phone use while driving.

Cell phone use behind the wheel is very common, and extremely dangerous.  14% of all fatal distracted driving accidents involved cell phone use, leading to about 486 deaths in 2016.  This primarily affects drivers aged 20-29.  Despite previous trends, teen drivers are actually the group least likely to be killed by cell phone use behind the wheel.

While it is not illegal to talk on the phone in PA, it is illegal to write, send, or read text-based communications on your phone.  If you were injured by someone who was texting and driving, making social media posts, or browsing social media while driving, you could use these laws against them to help prove your injury case.

Drunk Driving

DUI car accidents can be extremely dangerous and deadly.  When a driver is intoxicated, their abilities to react quickly, use good judgment, and appreciate dangers are all reduced.  Even if their reduced reaction time is not the cause of a crash, it may still make the accident worse if they do not make an effort to brake, swerve, or otherwise mitigate the effects of the crash.  In many cases, the drunk driver walks away from the crash, but the victims in other cars may suffer serious injuries or wrongful death.

The NHTSA says that 27-29 drunk driving fatalities occurred each day in 2014, 2015, and 2016.  This is an incredibly high number of deaths for something that is so avoidable.

Because drunk and drugged driving are illegal in PA, you should always report a drunk driving accident to the police.  These DUI statutes can help you prove the other driver was at fault for your accident if you were injured or lost a loved one to a drunk driving car crash.


Speed is a factor in around 27% of deadly car crashes each year.  Car accidents from speeding not only occur on highways but are also a big problem on back roads and city streets.  The problem with speeding often comes when the driver is going too fast for the current road conditions, not just when they drive over the speed limit.  For instance, though the speed limit on I-76’s Schuylkill Expressway may be 50mph in many areas, that does not mean that it is always safe to drive 50mph.  In many cases, heavy traffic, wet road conditions, or snow require you to drive much slower to remain safe.

Speeding can, of course, lead to a traffic ticket.  Since speeding is illegal, these traffic laws can help you, as a victim of a car accident involving speeding, show that the other driver was at fault.

Driver Error

Of course, many of these accidents already discussed can be considered driver error, other errors contribute to car accidents in nearly every case.  Some errors behind the wheel may rise to the level of careless driving or reckless driving, but other failures to follow traffic laws can also cause crashes.  Going straight in a turn-only lane, driving the wrong way down a one-way street, running a red light or stop sign, or failing to obey a yield sign can all be errors that cause minor to severe car crashes, depending on the surrounding circumstances.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers Offering Free Consultations

If you are injured in a car accident in Philadelphia, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.  Talk to an attorney today before accepting any compensation from an insurance company or the other driver, since this could limit your ability to sue.  For a free consultation on your case, contact The Reiff Law Firm’s Philadelphia personal injury lawyers today at (215) 246-9000.  Our lawyers can help if you or a loved one was severely injured and needs compensation.

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