Common Causes of Car Accidents in New Jersey

Date: May 25, 2023
policeman leaning on sports car's window

What are the common causes of car accidents? In 2022, traffic-related deaths in New Jersey reached a 15-year high, according to a New Jersey State Police annual statistics report. No one expects to cause an accident, but statistically, bad driving behavior is responsible for nearly 300,000 car accidents yearly in the state.

For this reason, it is crucial to recognize the leading causes of car accidents.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents in New Jersey. Cell phone use is the most significant contributor to driver inattention and causes motorists to run stop signs, skip traffic lights, or drive into oncoming traffic. While New Jersey traffic laws prohibit using handheld cell phones while driving, law enforcement reports that texting and placing calls is the leading cause of distracted driving accidents. Other distractions include:

  • Eating, drinking, and smoking
  • Applying makeup or shaving
  • Interacting with passengers or children
  • Adjusting a radio or navigation system
  • Changing or putting on clothing
  • Handling pets inside the car
  • Searching for items on the floor or under the seats
  • Concentrating on roadside advertising or rubbernecking an accident

Drunk Driving

The New Jersey State Police reports that nearly 35 percent of all fatal accidents involve intoxicated or impaired drivers. The periods with the highest rates of alcohol-related crashes include Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. Alcohol reduces reaction time and quick decision-making, impairs vision and ability to recognize, process, or assess situations, and causes blackouts or sleepiness.

Speeding and Reckless Driving

One of the most common traffic violations is speeding or reckless driving, such as darting in and out of lanes or ignoring traffic rules. Speeding is a factor in approximately 29 percent of all accidents and the highest fatality rate, according to the National Safety Council. Reckless driving is the most common cause of left-turn accidents, often resulting in severe injuries and death. Other common types of reckless driving include:

  • Running reds light or stop signs
  • Failing to obey traffic signals
  • Failing to turn on headlights in low-visibility conditions
  • Not adjusting driving during bad weather conditions


New Jersey’s many large cities and proximity to the New York Metropolitan Area result in congested roadways. In stop-and-start commuter traffic, rear-end collisions occur daily. Motorists traveling too close to the car in front of them risk a rear-end collision if the front vehicle stops suddenly. This type of collision often causes a chain reaction of several cars rear-ending one another in heavy traffic.

Drowsy Driving

Studies have shown that fatigued driving can cause the same cognitive impairments as drunk driving. New Jersey is one of only two states with laws that address sleep-deprived motorists who injure or kill someone. Drowsy driving accidents are more frequent during the late afternoon and between midnight and 6:00 a.m. Common causes of drowsy driving include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Night shift work
  • Certain medications
  • Health conditions
  • Unhealthy lifestyle

Poor Weather Conditions

Fog, rain, ice, and snow make roadways dangerous and lower visibility. Drivers who speed and drive recklessly put everyone on the road in danger of a severe accident. Slick roads cause tires to lose traction with the surface and skid across the top, leading to severe accidents and injuries.

Aggressive Driving

There are many different aggressive driving actions, including speeding, tailgating, and driving recklessly.

Road rage is a form of aggressive driving. In New Jersey, road rage is a criminal offense. Common road rage behaviors include obscene gestures, excessive horn honking, and intentionally cutting another driver off or forcing a stop for a physical confrontation or altercation.

Road Construction

Construction zones are common on New Jersey’s roadways and increase during warmer months when crews have more daylight for working. Construction zones pose significant dangers to crews, especially when drivers ignore traffic signs and speed limits or are distracted. The New Jersey Department of Transportation reports that between 2018 and 2020, there were over 6,500 work zone accidents, resulting in 1,46 injuries and 24 fatalities.

How Can You Avoid a Car Accident?

Being mindful of the common causes of car accidents can help you be a better driver and take precautionary steps to keep yourself and others safe. You can reduce your risk by wearing your seat belt, eliminating distractions, traveling safely, increasing your distance from others, and obeying all traffic laws and signs.

New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC Represent Clients Injured by Reckless Drivers

Car accidents can lead to serious injuries that can affect you for the rest of your life. If a negligent driver has injured you, speak with our New Jersey car accident lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC. Call us today at 732-800-9474 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Manasquan, New Jersey, we serve clients in Middlesex County, Atlantic County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, and Ocean County.