Many factors contribute to traffic accidents, from weather and road conditions to auto problems. However, most happen due to driver error.
According to the NYPD’s report as of August 2019, these are the top five causes of car accidents in New York City.
1. Driver inattention or distraction
The top contributing factor for all crashes (fatal and nonfatal) was driver inattention or distraction. This number did not include the use of cellphones or other electronic devices, which had their own categories. Common types of distraction include:
- Zoning out/daydreaming
- Talking to passengers
- Eating and/or drinking
- Changing interior settings, including music
- Looking at the scenery instead of the road
- Trying to grab something out of reach
Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off driving can be a distraction.
2. Following too closely
It is easy to see why tailgating leads to so many accidents, especially in a busy city. Following too closely gives the driver very little time and space to stop. Drivers should leave at least three seconds of distance between them and vehicles in front. This means it should take three seconds before passing the same fixed object as the vehicle ahead just passed.
3. Failure to yield right of way
One of the most confusing parts of driving is knowing whose turn it is to go at intersections, even with clear traffic signals and signs. It is also challenging when you add pedestrians and cyclists to the mix, of which there are many in NYC.
4. Backing unsafely
Backing unsafely entails more than just backing out of places such as parking spaces, driveways or alleys. It can also involve backing up over a great distance, in an intersection or in a toll lane.
5. Improper passing or lane usage
Examples of improper passing include passing at a blind spot such as a curve or the top of a hill, passing on the right side in most cases or driving on the shoulder of the road to pass.