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What Are the Leading Causes of Car Accidents in Washington?

Colburn Law

Every year, thousands of people are involved in car accidents across Washington state. These collisions can range in severity, from minor fender benders to serious multi-car crashes. Despite the risks and consequences, many motorists fail to follow the law and drive their vehicles safely.

Many factors can lead to car accidents in Washington, from driving while distracted to failure to yield the right of way. If someone else caused your collision, you may have the right to pursue legal action. 

What Are the Leading Causes of Car Accidents in Washington?

Distracted Driving

Driving is an activity that requires our utmost attention and concentration. Any distraction that pulls our eyes, minds, or hands away from the road can lead to a serious accident. 

Although we often associate distracted driving with cellphone use, many other distractions could lead to an accident. These may include:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Smoking or vaping
  • Looking at something outside of the vehicle
  • Grooming, such as applying makeup or fixing hair
  • Having loud or unruly passengers in the vehicle
  • Fiddling with the radio, navigation system, or climate controls

Intoxicated Driving

Drugs and alcohol impair many of the functions that are necessary to drive safely, such as coordination, concentration, and judgment. Unfortunately, intoxicated driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents in Washington—and recent data reveals an alarming trend. 

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 2022 saw the most traffic deaths since 1990. Approximately 745 people died in accidents that involved a driver who was impaired by drugs or alcohol, and many more suffered serious injuries. Between 2017 to 2021, 32% of fatal traffic accidents in Washington involved a drunk driver.

Failure to Yield the Right of Way

Right-of-way laws are in place to prevent accidents and help drivers navigate the road with confidence. Unfortunately, some motorists disregard the rules of the road and fail to yield to others when required, leading to a collision. For example, a motorist who fails to yield at a stop sign can end up crashing into another driver.


Like right-of-way rules, speed limits are established to protect the safety of all road users. This is especially important in areas with vulnerable pedestrians, such as school zones. If a driver operates a vehicle above the posted speed limit, disastrous consequences can occur.

Drivers who speed have less time to react to sudden hazards on the road, like a child running into the street. They can easily collide with other drivers in the area or even lose control of their vehicles. The faster that a vehicle is traveling, the more severe the impact—leading to serious and sometimes fatal injuries.

What to Do If You Are Injured in a Car Accident

The moments after a car accident can be scary, but it is important to remain calm and seek help as soon as possible.  First, call 911 and report the accident to the police. This will create an official record of the accident, which you can use as evidence in a future insurance claim or lawsuit. 

Then, seek medical attention at a hospital or clinic, even if you do not feel injured. Gather as much evidence as possible from the scene of the accident, such as witness statements, photographs, and videos. 

Then, contact a Washington car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options. A personal injury attorney can help you take the first steps toward filing your claim and advocate aggressively for your right to financial compensation.