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Common causes of accidents in California: What you need to know

California is a densely populated state with many people behind the wheel, which can make for dangerous driving conditions. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Golden State had more fatal car crashes in 2014 than any other state in the country, at over 2,800.

If you're a driver in California, caution is required to stay safe on the roads. Here are just a few of the most common causes of car crashes in the state and some top safety recommendations.

California car crashes

The California Department of Transportation, or CalTrans, has put together data on the most common types of car crashes in the state by studying numbers over a four-year period. What they found was that nearly 20 percent of speed-related injuries and car crash fatalities were speed-related.

The most recent year that data was released, 2013, showed that more than 71,000 collisions were caused by excessive speed. The second most common causes of crashes were people making improper turns, followed by alcohol-related accidents and failure to yield crashes.

Common types of collisions

Now that we know the common causes of many of these accidents, there are also common types of accidents on California roads. For example, rear-end collisions are the most common type of accident recorded, with over 74,000 accidents in 2013. This is followed by sideswipes and vehicles hitting objects, which are assumed to be something other than another vehicle. Other common types of collisions are broadsides, overturned vehicles, head-on collisions and auto vs. pedestrian accidents.

Safe driver recommendations

CalTrans has goals to reduce these crash figures over the next five years, but due to reporting lags, it's difficult to gauge whether or not progress is being made. Based on the National Safety Council's latest figures, fatalities on the road are up nationwide, so there is still a lot of work to be done. Most experts recommend that drivers follow these important safety recommendations:

  • Always follow the rules of the road, including obeying posted speed limits.
  • Wear a safety belt at all times. Drivers and all passengers should be buckled up, no matter how short the drive.
  • Never drive when impaired by alcohol or drugs. If there is ever a question, take alternative transportation.
  • Never drive while distracted. Don't use cell phones or in-vehicle technology while driving.

Unfortunately, the U.S. ranks among the most dangerous countries when it comes to motor vehicle crash deaths and California has the greatest number of fatalities. Follow these tips and you can be a part of the collective solution to a safer driving experience for all.

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