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What are the common characteristics of a fatal auto accident?

Accidents can happen at any time no matter the situation, but there are some common factors that tend to be present in fatal auto accidents.

Knowing these factors may not prevent you from ever having a crash, but they can help you to be a more informed driver. You may be able to avoid driving during high-risk times or learn something that can help you to be more cautious.


According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, based on statistics from 2019, the most common time of the day for fatal accidents is between 3:00 p.m. and midnight. These are hours that encompass evening rush hour and also when it becomes dark, so it is not surprising the most accidents happen during this period.

Another non-surprising statistic is that most crashes occur on weekends, including Friday. This is the time when most people are off work and doing things with friends and family, so there will be more traffic.

Finally, the most traffic deaths occur in the months of May through October. Again, not too much of a surprise since these are the warmer months of the year with fewer bad weather days.

Driver and vehicle

Drivers age 20 to 34 are the group with the most fatal car accidents, and most victims will be driving or riding in a passenger vehicle. Smaller vehicles generally are less safe, so it that is likely why passenger vehicles put you at a higher risk than a commercial vehicle.


Distractions are a major cause of fatal accidents. Distracted driving can occur whenever you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or your mind strays from the task at hand.

In addition, most accidents that lead to death occur in areas with speed limits under 55 mph. However, the other important factor here is that these accidents include a vehicle exceeding the speed limit.