As noted by Safe Roads USA, San Diego is famous for its beaches, climate, and laid-back vibe. Unfortunately, the area is also well known for having some of the most congested roads in the nation. While recent years have shown a slight decline in the number of severe and fatal accidents, commuters in San Diego spend many hours sitting in their cars stuck in traffic caused by accidents.

Many types of accidents occur on roadways throughout San Diego, and the U.S. as aging infrastructure no longer meets the needs of travelers, and increases in the number of cars on the road often equate to increases in the number of bad driving practices occurring on roadways as well. Here is a look at the types of car accidents that commonly result in traffic congestion, injuries, and death. car accident attorneys will understand your pain and want to help you recover fair compensation for your injuries.

Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions occur when the front of one vehicle collides with the front of another car. While they’re not the most common type of accident to occur by a long shot, head-on collisions are hazardous due to the increased force of the crash resulting from the forward motion of both vehicles.

As noted by Forbes Advisor, head-on collisions account for around 10 percent of all traffic fatalities and are most commonly caused by:

  • Distracted driving, which involves anything that causes the driver to take their eyes off the road, their hands out of the proper position on the steering wheel, and their mind from the task of driving safely. A distracted driver can drift into an opposing travel lane, resulting in a collision with oncoming vehicles.
  • Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. As explained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol impairment erodes many of the skills needed for the safe operation of a motor vehicle, including the ability to maintain a single lane of travel, control one’s speed, or make good driving decisions. Changes to visual perception by alcohol or drug impairment can also result in confusion, leading the impaired driver to travel down a roadway in the wrong direction.
  • Fatigued driving, which is often associated with long-haul truck drivers or night shift workers. In truth, driver fatigue can occur in anyone without enough quality rest. The signs of driver fatigue often mimic alcohol impairment, including the inability to maintain a single lane of travel.
  • Passing on a double yellow line. Double yellow lines indicate that it is unsafe to pass due to a curve in the road or other issues that could impair the driver’s ability to see if anyone is coming from the opposite direction.
  • Unfamiliarity with the roadway. Often, if a driver is new to the area, they will not be aware of the particular intricacies of the road they’re traveling. This unfamiliarity—combined with not noticing or understanding directional signs—can lead them to turn on a one-way street or to enter the highway in the opposing lanes.

Broadside (T-Bone) Accidents

Broadside accidents are often referred to as T-bone accidents because the impact of the front of one vehicle to the side of another vehicle makes a rough letter T. These are also one of the more severe types of accidents that two cars can be involved in. The vehicle’s occupants sustaining frontal damage generally face hazards from their vehicle’s safety equipment, such as fractured ribs and sternums from seat belt shoulder harnesses and impact from vehicle airbags.

Occupants on the vehicle that was struck on the side often have injuries resulting from the limited amount of protection provided in the door panels of most vehicles. personal Injuries in broadside accidents are commonly more severe if there is a discrepancy in the size of the vehicles involved.

The most common location for a T-bone accident is in an intersection, and the most common reason for the collision is that one driver failed to yield the right-of-way to the other driver by yielding to a red light or a stop sign. As noted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), red light running kills nearly 1,000 people each year, with half of those fatalities involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and occupants of other vehicles who had the right-of-way when the accident occurred.


Sideswipes are accidents that occur when the side of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle. The vehicles involved can be traveling in the same direction in adjacent lanes, or they can be traveling in opposing lanes. These accidents can involve two vehicles in motion, or they can involve one vehicle that is moving and another vehicle that is parked.

Many of the same types of driving behaviors that result in other types of accidents can also result in a sideswipe, such as:

  • Distracted driving when one driver drifts or veers into another lane of travel while the driver is not concentrating on driving safely.
  • Impairment by alcohol, drugs, or fatigue.
  • Improper passing, such as when a driver fails to ensure that they have completely overtaken a vehicle before merging into a travel lane or a driver who fails to check their blind spot before changing lanes.
  • Aggressive driving, which involves several types of bad driving practices, even attempting to run another vehicle off the road.

Rear-End Accidents

Rear-end accidents involve the front of one vehicle colliding with the rear of another vehicle. As explained by NHTSA, this is the most common type of accident involving more than one vehicle, accounting for nearly a third of all crashes. Most of these accidents occur when the lead vehicle is stopped at a traffic light or stop sign and the driver behind them fails to stop.

Rear-end collisions occurring at intersections are most commonly the result of tailgating, in which the driver of the following car is following the lead car too closely, not allowing the driver the time they need to realize that the vehicle in front of them has slowed or stopped, and to respond to that information by slamming on the brakes. While rear-end crashes are often regarded as “minor accidents” or fender-benders, they can be quite serious, accounting for thousands of injuries and deaths on U.S. roads.

While intersections are the most common location for rear-end accidents, this type of accident can also occur on other parts of the roadway due to improper passing or merging when one vehicle cuts another vehicle off. While the driver of the following car is usually liable, there are circumstances in which the lead car’s driver can be found responsible for causing the accident, such as when they’ve stopped in the roadway for no reason, or the accident occurred while they were driving in reverse.

Chain Reaction Crashes

Chain reaction crashes often begin as a two-vehicle crash and involve other vehicles due to the force of the collision or other drivers being unable to stop in time to avoid colliding with the wreckage of the previous scene. Due to the intense congestion on U.S. roads, several large chain reaction crashes have occurred over the years, including one on northbound Highway 99 just south of Fresno that involved as many as 100 cars and resulted in two deaths as well as dozens of injuries.

In the Fresno pileup, dense fog on the highway was blamed for drivers being unable to see the accident in time to slow down or avoid the area. Weather often combines with negligent driving practices, such as speeding or merely driving in unsafe weather conditions.

Vehicle Rollovers

A rollover can occur due to a single-vehicle crash or a crash involving two vehicles.

Several incidents and behaviors can lead to a vehicle rollover, including:

  • Tripping, which occurs when the vehicle’s tire hits something such as a curb or a ditch, causing the vehicle’s weight to shift to one side.
  • Speeding around a sharp corner or curve, which can cause the tires to lose grip on the road. Vehicles that have a taller, narrower profile and a high center of gravity, such as a tractor-trailer or an older-model SUV, are more likely to roll over when taking corners or curves at speed.
  • A previous crash. If two vehicles collide, the collision itself can cause one vehicle to tip, leading to a rollover.
  • Running off the road, which can cause the vehicle’s tires to trip on boulders or other objects on the roadway or can cause a weight imbalance as the vehicle heads down a hillside, causing it to roll.

One of the major hazards of vehicle rollovers involves vehicle occupants who are not restrained by a seat belt. The violence with which a vehicle rolls over will often result in an unrestrained occupant’s partial or complete ejection.

NHTSA notes that vehicle rollovers are most commonly experienced in single-vehicle crashes and that elevated blood alcohol content is a common feature of these crashes due to the impacts of alcohol impairment on the driver’s ability to operate their vehicle properly and safely. Speed is also a common factor leading to vehicle rollovers, with drivers unable to effectively maintain control of their vehicle around curves in the road as they simply travel too fast.

Backing Collisions

Backing collisions refer to accidents occurring while one vehicle backs up. The most common example of this type of accident occurs in a parking lot when a driver is attempting to back out of a parking spot and fails to look behind them to ensure that the area is clear, striking other vehicles or people on their way.

One common issue that leads to this type of accident occurs when the driver intends to drive forward out of the parking space and instead puts their car in reverse. The vehicle leaps unexpectedly backward.

Backing collisions can also occur when a driver attempts to back out of a private drive, failing to look for pedestrians on the sidewalk or bicyclists and other vehicles traveling down the roadway. Unfortunately, backing collisions can also be caused when a driver fails to ensure that their own children are not in the driveway behind their vehicle before backing out.

Other causes of backing collisions include limited vision out of back windows, larger vehicles with more significant blind spots (such as tractor-trailers), or the driver being unsure as to which way they need to turn the wheel when backing up.

Driver distraction can also lead to backing collisions. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), distraction is a particular concern in parking lots, with two-thirds of the drivers who participated in a nationwide poll stating that they talk on their phones while driving through parking lots.

Nearly as many drivers also confessed that they use that portion of their journey programming their GPS, and more than half of respondents stated that they text while driving in parking lots. Teens who participated in the poll were found to be more likely to engage in personal grooming activities in parking lots but were less likely than adult drivers to be talking on their phones.

Single-Vehicle Crashes

When most people hear the term “single-vehicle crash,” they automatically envision a vehicle running off the road or colliding with a street sign or another stationary object. While collisions such as these represent one type of single-vehicle crash, the term can also be used to refer to an accident in which one vehicle collided with another type of roadway user, such as a pedestrian or bicyclist.

IIHS reports that more than half of all fatal traffic accidents involve a single vehicle. Each year, more than 6,500 pedestrians and 900 bicyclists are killed in motor vehicle accidents.

If you were involved in any type of motor vehicle accident that was caused by the carelessness or recklessness of someone else, contact a personal injury attorney to learn more about how to seek compensation for the costs and impacts of your injury.

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