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Top 5 Common Types of Vehicle Accidents

Vehicle accidents happen in many ways. Understanding how your crash occurred will help you determine who may have caused it. The type of crash can also tell you the injuries that you can reasonably tie to the accident. All this information is critical when you’re preparing for an insurance claim or lawsuit.

Categorizing Crashes

You can classify crashes in many ways, including the following:

Who Is Involved?

Many crashes are classified according to who was involved. For example, pedestrian accidents happen when a motor vehicle collides with a non-motorized road user traveling on foot. Similarly, single-vehicle crashes happen when a vehicle hits a fixed object, overturns, or runs off the road without hitting any other motorized or non-motorized road user.

How Did the Crash Happen?

You can also categorize crashes based on how the collision happened. Often, this type of categorization involves describing the nature of the collision, such as:

  • Rear-end

  • Head-on

  • Sideswipe

  • Angle

  • Side-impact

These categories carry a lot of information about a crash. For instance, sideswipe crashes almost always involve less crash energy than head-on crashes. Likewise, side-impact crashes typically occur in intersections.

What Caused the Crash?

The cause of a collision provides an easy way to categorize crashes. Some examples of this type of categorization include:

  • Impaired driving crashes

  • Distracted driving crashes

  • Speed-related crashes

This can often tell you who might have been liable for the injuries and property damage produced by the collision.

5 Common Crash Types

Some common crash types include:

1. Car and SUV Collisions

Sedans and SUVs are the most common body styles in the U.S. While there are more SUVs on the roads than sedans overall, sedans still outnumber SUVs in certain states, including California and Florida.

The most common collision will probably involve:

  • Sedan and sedan

  • SUV and SUV

  • Sedan and SUV

On the one hand, SUVs tend to protect occupants better because they surround them with more metal. On the other hand, increased mass means increased crash energy. Thus, there are both benefits and disadvantages to safety when drivers choose an SUV over a sedan.

2. Rear-End Crashes

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of crash. These accidents happen when a vehicle slams into the rear portion of the vehicle in front of it. This category is often referred to in wreck reports as a “front-to-rear collision” because the front of one vehicle hits the rear of another.

Rear-end crashes happen when the driver of the rear vehicle lacks the time or distance to brake safely. Reasons for this lack of time might include:

  • Tailgating

  • Speeding

  • Distracted driving

Most of the time, the liability for these crashes falls on the driver of the rear vehicle. The law requires drivers to follow at a safe distance based on all the circumstances, including the speed of the vehicles and the current road conditions. When a driver hits the rear of another vehicle, they are, by definition, failing to follow at a safe distance.

However, there are a few situations where blame shifts to the driver in the front vehicle. Suppose, for instance, that the driver of the front vehicle cut off the other driver by changing lanes without leaving enough space. In this case, the rear driver might not have had an opportunity to slow down and create a safe gap between them.

Similarly, the drivers may share responsibility if the rear driver was tailgating, but the front driver caused the collision by brake-checking them. In that scenario, both drivers failed to exercise reasonable care.

3. Head-On Crashes

Head-on crashes are not the most common type of crash. But they are more likely to cause injury or death. In this type of crash, the front ends of the vehicles collide as they head toward each other.

Many types of crashes allow the vehicle occupants to escape injury or death. Sideswipe collisions often involve very little crash energy. As a result, they produce only minor injuries. Even drivers involved in rear-end collisions might escape injury if the difference in speed between the vehicles was relatively small.

Head-on crashes, by contrast, can involve massive crash energies. The energy depends on the relative speed of the vehicles. In a head-on crash, you add the speed of the vehicles together.

At even modest speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour, the vehicles crash with the same energy as a single vehicle slamming into a wall at 50 to 60 miles per hour. This calculation explains the dangers of head-on crashes at freeway speeds of 65 to 70 miles per hour.

4. Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents are more likely to cause injury or death than car accidents. Automobiles, regardless of body style, protect the occupants in a passenger compartment. Motorcycles provide no such protection.

A motorcycle crash can eject a rider, resulting in severe head and spine injuries when they land. Even a minor collision can cause a motorcycle to tip over, dragging the motorcyclist along the road surface.

Some common causes of collisions between automobiles and motorcycles include:

  • Drivers making a left turn across the path of a motorcycle

  • Drivers changing lanes without spotting motorcycles next to them

  • Drivers following motorcycles too closely

This is not to imply that motorcyclists do not cause or contribute to collisions with automobiles. Motorcyclists can bear some or all the blame when they speed or weave through traffic.

5. 18-Wheeler Trucking Accidents

Truck accidents are relatively rare. But when they do happen, they are notorious for causing multiple injuries or deaths because of the massive crash energy generated by their weight. A fully loaded semi truck and trailer combination can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or as much as 40 times more than a small sedan.

Truck crashes have a wide range of causes, including shifting loads, careless driving, and equipment failures. When crashes result from negligence in loading, operating, or maintaining the truck, the trucking company will probably bear the liability.

Explaining Your Crash

Your crash type can help you explain what happened, how you got hurt, and, most importantly, who was responsible. In many cases, you will use the wreck report and other documents to support your version of the events. Contact Alawreck online or by phone at (205) 903-9592 to learn how we help you organize and manage crash resources and services.

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