Great Britain road traffic accident report

Unfortunately, road accidents are inevitable and happen every day across the world. In fact, the most recent data available shows that there are approximately 126,247 road accidents in Great Britain a year, which works out as almost 346 each day. But what are the most common causes of road accidents in Great Britain?

We’ve delved into official data to reveal the most common causes of road accidents in Great Britain, and created a list of the top ten contributing factors. Our team of experts have also shared their advice on how to avoid accidents this year by getting into good driving habits and staying safe behind the wheel.

What are the main reasons for road accidents in Great Britain?

1 . Driver/Rider error or reaction

The leading cause of collisions is due to errors or incorrect reactions from drivers as it accounts for 64% of incidents (43,000 in total). This includes manoeuvring dangerously at junctions and suddenly braking or swerving, so it’s important to ensure you’re aware of your surroundings and stay focused when driving.

2. Driver/Rider failed to look properly

Drivers or riders failing to properly look when on the road causes 23,816 accidents a year, equating to 35% of total accidents overall. It’s important to use all points of view when driving or manoeuvring, including all windows and mirrors, and when necessary, moving to check blind spots, so you are aware of all potential hazards and other road users - including pedestrians.

3. Behaviour or inexperience

The behaviour or inexperience of drivers led to a quarter (25%) of accidents (16,693 collisions in total). In fact, the actions of learner or inexperienced drivers alone caused 2,477 accidents. Being confident behind the wheel of the vehicle you are driving and staying calm is key for the safety of those in your vehicle, as well as other road users.

4. Injudicious actions

Showing a lack of judgement (injudicious actions), such as speeding or disobeying signs, signals, and road markings, causes 22% of accidents in Great Britain a year (14,455 collisions in total). Speed limits are set for a reason and abiding by them is the law. However, almost 5,000 accidents were caused by drivers and riders exceeding the speed limit.

5. Driver/Rider failed to judge other person’s path or speed

Drivers failing to correctly assess another driver’s intention or speed was a cause of almost one-in-five (19%) accidents. With the most recent data showing that a total of 12,618 incidents have been reported as a result of this in a 12-month period, it’s imperative you pay close attention to others on the road, and always keep lots of space between the vehicle in front of you, so you have time to react safely.

6. Driver/Rider acting carelessly, recklessly or in a hurry

Being in a hurry and driving recklessly or carelessly led to 12,023 accidents (or 18% of all accidents) on British roads throughout a 12-month period according to most recent Government data. But it’s not just drivers or riders that can act this way and cause a collision - pedestrian’s being careless, reckless or in a hurry also caused 1,677 accidents. 

7. Impairment or distraction

Impairment or distraction while driving has caused 17% of crashes, with 11,434 reported accidents in total over a 12 month period. This includes drivers being under the influence of drink or drugs, having impaired vision, or being distracted by devices such as a mobile phone. 

8. Road environment contributed

Inadequate road markings or signs, road layouts, or deposits on the road such as mud or oil can affect the condition of the road. Drivers need to be extra cautious and be prepared to react quickly when needed, as this was revealed as the contributing factor of 12% of accidents (7,784 total).

9. Poor turn or manoeuvre

Drivers and riders not taking the time to safely turn or manoeuvre their vehicle caused 11% of accidents, with a total of 7,482 incidents reported. Take your time, use all your windows and mirrors, and even refresh yourself on how to properly conduct manoeuvres in your vehicle to ensure the safety of yourself and others. 

10. Loss of control

Drivers losing control while behind the wheel resulted in 7,120 accidents in (11%). It’s important to always make sure you’re in full control of your vehicle to prevent accidents from happening. This includes everything from driving at a safe speed and manoeuvring appropriately for the weather conditions to not getting distracted.

Expert advice for preventing accidents

Julie Daniels from the car insurance team has compiled some top tips to help drivers stay safe, and avoid accidents on the road:

1. Keep your distance

Always leave at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you - even more if you’re travelling at higher speeds. This allows for enough time to react if the driver ahead suddenly breaks or slows down. 

2. Don’t get distracted

Turn off your phone, don’t change the music and if you are struggling with any of the dash controls such as the heating or AC, pull over safely to adjust as necessary. 

3. Stay calm

Our research shows that 62% of drivers experience road rage, which can impact your ability to drive safely and cause accidents. Tailgating and lack of indication are some of the top causes of road rage, so it’s important to not only control your own emotions, but also to be considerate of others.

4. Be confident

Confidence is key when behind the wheel, including confidence in controlling the specific vehicle you are operating, to driving in different situations or conditions, to knowing your route. If your confidence ever wavers, don’t be afraid to brush up with some lessons.

5. Drive for the conditions

In Britain, we are lucky to experience four seasons, however each comes with their own risk behind the wheel. Take your time depending on the conditions, be it foggy, windy or sunny. 
Also, ensure you have the proper equipment: avoid being dazzled by the sun with a pair of sunglasses, ensure you have the correct tyres for driving in the snow, and ensure your windshield wipers are effective for driving in the rain.

6. Be extra cautious on country roads

According to the road safety charity, Brake, car drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists are more than three times more likely to be killed on a country lane than an urban street.


Using the most recent Government figures available (2021), we determined the most common causes of collisions in Great Britain by ranking the total number of incidents reported per contributing factor from 2021 data, based on reported road collisions, vehicles and casualties tables: (File RAS0403, File RAS0701, File RAS0705).

All data is accurate as of December 2022.