The 12 Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in Clearwater

Car accidents can have many causes. Vehicle malfunctions, weather, and road conditions all contribute to car crashes. But driver errors are, by far, the most common cause of traffic accidents.

Driver errors cause over 94% of traffic accidents in the U.S. These errors include improper maneuvers, driver distractions, and poor control of the vehicle.

Read on to learn 12 of the most common causes of car accidents in Clearwater.

Clearwater Crash Statistics

Florida has several data sources that tell you a lot about driver behavior and the causes of crashes in the state. 

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) issues an annual Crash Facts Report. It lists crash statistics, including the most common causes of accidents in Florida based on accident reports filed by drivers and police officers.

The FLHSMV also maintains a database of traffic citations issued in the state. The search interface allows you to search specific jurisdictions like the Clearwater Police Department.

Finally, the state cooperates with an analytics company to create the Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard. This dashboard has interactive traffic crash statistics, including a map of crash locations.

According to these resources, Clearwater had 3,993 traffic accidents in 2021. These accidents included 190 crashes involving commercial motor vehicles such as truck accidents and bus accidents. This number also included 165 pedestrian and bicycle accidents and 87 motorcycle accidents.

The remaining 3,551 car accidents included both single-vehicle accidents and collisions. According to the Crash Facts Report, about 82% of accidents in Florida involve collisions between motor vehicles.

12 Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in Clearwater

Car accidents in Clearwater follow some common patterns. The most common causes of car accidents in Clearwater include the following.

1. Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way

According to the Crash Facts Report, failure to yield is the most common cause of intersection accidents. At an intersection, a driver who goes out of turn can move into the path of another vehicle and cause a side-impact or angle crash. Serious injuries might result if the driver’s side of the car gets hit.

A failure to yield can also lead to accidents where roads merge. This driver error can cause accidents on freeway onramps as merging vehicles move into the path of freeway traffic. 

These crashes can involve sideswipe or rear-end collisions. They often result in less serious injuries because the vehicles are moving in the same direction when they collide.

2. Speeding

According to the traffic citation database, the most common moving violation in Clearwater is speeding. In 2021, Clearwater police issued 3,620 citations for exceeding the speed limit or traveling too fast for conditions.

In addition to violating the law, speeding causes car crashes. The Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard lists speeding as the cause of 12% of car accidents in Clearwater.

3. Improper Lookout

Improper lookout describes the scenario of pulling into traffic without looking for another vehicle or road user. Florida does not have a specific citation for improper lookout. Instead, improper lookout falls into the broad category of careless driving.

Improper lookout can happen when:

  • Turning into traffic from a parking lot
  • Pulling out of a parking space
  • Backing out of a driveway

Improper lookout can lead to crashes and injuries, depending on the speed of the vehicles involved.

4. Senior Drivers

Although the Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard indicates that one-third of accidents involve senior drivers, it does not indicate whether their physical condition played a role in the accident. The high percentage could simply result from the high number of seniors in Clearwater.

But senior drivers can have problems that affect their driving, including:

  • Poor vision
  • Reduced physical strength
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Dementia

Additionally, senior drivers can take medications that affect their fitness to drive.

5. Inexperienced Drivers

Driver inexperience is a common cause of accidents. Insurance companies charge higher premiums for young drivers because of the higher accident rate associated with inexperience. Driver inexperience can lead to poor decision-making, misjudging the speed or distance of vehicles, or overestimating the driver’s or vehicle’s capabilities.

6. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving doesn’t account for a very large percentage of car accident causes in Clearwater. According to the Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard, distracted drivers caused only 7.3% of Clearwater accidents that caused an injury or fatality.

7. Following Too Closely

Tailgating is a frustrating driver behavior. It also causes accidents. According to the Crash Facts Report, tailgating is the second-most common cause of car accidents in Florida. In 2021, Clearwater police issued 128 traffic citations for tailgating.

Fortunately, tailgating rarely causes fatalities. Since the vehicles collide while moving in the same direction, rear-end crashes have less energy than other types of crashes.

8. Intoxicated Driving

According to the Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard, intoxicated driving accounted for 21% of car accidents with an injury or fatality in Clearwater. Intoxicated driving includes drivers impaired by alcohol or illegal drugs. It also includes drivers impaired by prescription medication.

9. Lane Departures

Lane departures include improper passing or lane changes. The Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard lists lane departures as the most common cause of traffic accidents away from intersections.

10. Running a Red Light or Stop Sign

Drivers in Clearwater run red lights and stop signs at an alarming rate. In 2021, Clearwater police issued nearly 3,300 citations for a failure to stop at a red light or stop sign, according to the traffic citation database. These violations contribute to the high number of traffic accidents at Clearwater intersections.

11. Improper Turns

Improper turns include left turns across traffic and right turns into traffic. These turns cause crashes when a driver either fails to yield to oncoming traffic or fails to spot road users — usually pedestrians or bicyclists — in their path.

12. Careless Driving

Careless driving is a catchall traffic violation used by the police when a driver fails to drive in a “careful and prudent manner.” Careless driving can describe several of the driver behaviors listed previously. It can also cover less common behaviors like driving on the sidewalk.

Driving Safely in Clearwater

You can avoid committing most of the driver behaviors that cause car accidents. Driving carefully can substantially reduce your risk of causing a car accident.

But accidents can still happen due to other drivers’ actions. You should always wear a seat belt and drive defensively by anticipating what other drivers might do.

If you were in a car accident, you may be entitled to substantial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more.

Contact the Pinellas County Car Accident Lawyers At Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help

For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg car accident law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We serve in Pinellas County and its surrounding areas:

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
United States
24 hours
(727) 796-8282

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
2560 1st Ave S,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712,
United States
24 hours
(727) 349-1728