Major causes of road accidents in India: Why do accidents occur?

Team Ackodrive6, Jun, 2022

There are rules around driving to avoid road accidents. Yet we often read about terrible vehicle accidents in newspapers. The increasing road accidents make safety a big concern for drivers.

In order to ensure safety while driving or riding a vehicle, you must understand the causes of road accidents. The knowledge of what causes an accident can prepare you for unforeseen situations you might encounter on the road. In city traffic or on highways, your awareness will keep you and others safe.

Causes of Road Accidents

What are the causes of road accidents?

Below are some of the major reasons for road accidents.

1. Human error

Often, distraction and negligence are seen as the top causes of road accidents. Thus, it may seem that one can be safe by being a careful driver. But it’s not always true. Even if you are extremely careful while driving, the ignorance of other drivers can cause a problem. Hence, you must pay attention to the activity of other vehicles driving near your vehicle.

2. Extreme weather

Apart from human errors, extreme weather conditions also tend to increase the chances of accidents. Dense fog, excessive rain, heavy winds, etc., make driving more difficult, which can lead to gruesome accidents if drivers are not extra precautious. 

3. Mechanical failures

No matter how experienced a driver you are, driving a faulty car is a huge safety risk. Critical problems such as loose brakes and old tyres can put you in dangerous situations while driving. Hence, it is critically important to ensure on-time vehicle maintenance.

Road accidents in India: Where do we stand?

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) publishes a report on the accident rate in India. Based on the latest report (2019), below are the key factors around road accident death in India.

  • Road accidents are one of the main causes of hospitalisation, disabilities, and deaths in India.

  • Among 199 countries, India ranks on top in deaths caused by road accidents.

  • Based on vehicle conditions, road environment and human errors, the government observed the following rate of road accident deaths in 2019.

Factors involved Percentage of road accident deaths
Overspeeding 67.30%
Wrong side driving 6.10%
Using mobile phones while driving 3.30%
Drunken driving 3.50%
Not wearing a helmet while riding 30%
Not wearing a seatbelt while driving 14%
Vehicles older than 10 years 41%
Rural accidents 67.10%
Urban accidents 32.90%

Types of road accidents

The following are the key types of road accidents involving a motor vehicle.

  • Vehicle rollover: This is one of the most violent kinds of accidents. Rollovers usually involve interaction between a variety of factors like the vehicle, driver, environmental conditions, and road conditions.

  • Rear-end impact: This happens when a vehicle collides with the rear-end of another vehicle in traffic. Rear-end collisions can be a result of panic stops, distractions, rough road conditions, etc. 

  • Side impact: A side impact occurs when a vehicle collides with the broadside of another vehicle. This type of crash can occur at parking lots, intersections, etc. 

  • Head-on impact: This kind of accident involves two vehicles hitting the front ends of each other. Head-on collisions can be highly fatal and occur while driving on the wrong side, narrow streets, neglecting traffic signs, etc. 

  • Single-car accident: Sometimes, only a single vehicle is involved in an accident in situations like off-road collisions, crashing with debris or animals on the road, etc. 

Top causes of road accidents: Why do accidents occur?

We have already talked about how human error, weather conditions, and mechanical failures can lead to accidents. Now, let’s dive deep into the specific causes of road accidents. 

1. Overspeeding

While driving on city roads or highways, you must always follow the speed limits. Many drivers ignore and drive over the speed limits. High-speed driving gives you very little time to react to any vehicle, person, animal, etc., coming in front of the car. This increases the chances of severe accidents.

2. Distracted driver

Some drivers indulge in multitasking while driving, such as talking on the phone, sending texts, eating food, etc. In India, most city roads have dense traffic and rough road conditions. So, not paying attention to traffic can easily lead to accidents. That’s why distraction is considered one of the top causes of road accidents in India.

3. Reckless driver

There are rules related to driving on the road to keep everyone safe. You need to stay in your lane, avoid unnecessary overtaking, and maintain distance from other vehicles. Reckless drivers are the ones who neglect these rules and drive impatiently. This is what causes many accidents in city traffic and on highways as per the MoRTH report.

4. Intoxicated driver

Intoxicating substances such as alcohol or drugs prevent your ability to function and focus properly. Still, many people decide to drive or ride after getting drunk, which causes road accidents every day in India. 

5. Breaking red signals

Traffic signal is a critical spot where you can’t afford to make a mistake. Traffic lights tell you when to stop and when to drive to avoid collision with other vehicles. Breaking a red signal can easily create a situation where your vehicle gets hit by another vehicle from the side. 

6. Underage driver

Underage driving is a serious issue in our country. Often, teenagers lack the experience of driving and are careless behind the wheels. This is why many underage drivers end up causing accidents every year. 

7. Driving in rain

Driving during heavy rain can be dangerous, especially if the road conditions are rough. Rain creates slick road surfaces and fills potholes. As a result, bikes, cars, and even trucks can skid or spin. So, you must be extremely careful while driving in the rain. 

8. Driving in low-light conditions

Driving at night when no street lights are available can be risky. Even with your headlights, it can be difficult to notice certain things like the curves on the road, speed breakers, potholes, etc. So, you must be more aware of the surroundings while driving at night. 

9. Driving on the wrong side

Sometimes a lapse of judgement about the lane can result in deadly situations. Driving on the right side of the road or entering a “No Entry” zone can easily cause head-on collisions with vehicles coming from the other side. 

10. Unsafe lane change

While driving, you will certainly have to make lane changes from time to time. If not done safely, it can cause an accident. You must give proper turn signals and be careful about the blind spots while proceeding to another lane. 

11. Tailgating

Driving close to other vehicles leaves you very little time to react. If a vehicle in front of you suddenly hits the brakes, you won’t be able to stop on time to avoid a crash. 

12. Driving on ice or snow

In the northernmost parts of the country, the roads receive heavy snowfall during winters. This weather condition impacts the visibility and surface traction on the road. Drivers can easily lose control of their vehicles in such conditions. The risks further intensify on narrow mountain roads where turns are difficult with sides that fall into deep valleys. 

13. Tyre bursts

Driving with old or damaged tyres can result in blowouts. The bigger the vehicle, the more difficult it gets to control when a tyre bursts. If your car’s tyre bursts while driving, try to keep the vehicle in control and slowly drive it to the side of the road and park safely.

14. Dangerous curves

Some of the curves on the road create all the conditions of road accidents if not approached with care. These curves usually create blind spots that don’t let you see the vehicles coming from the other direction.

You may or may not find a traffic sign while approaching such curves. In any case, you should be extremely cautious, drive slowly, and use your vehicle’s horn to give out your position while driving on curving roads. 

15. Fog

While it is common to have fog during winter weather, its occurrence tends to increase the chances of road accidents. It can reduce road visibility to a level where you won’t see anything beyond a few metres in front of your vehicle.

To drive in foggy conditions, you must use high beam lights so you can see better. Moreover, keep your speed slow to allow yourself enough reaction time if something comes in front of your vehicle. 

16. Animal crossing

It is a common sight in India to see animals on the streets, roads and even highways. Animals obviously don’t understand traffic rules. You may be driving carefree, and suddenly an animal might charge to cross the road in front of your vehicle. Such situations cause minor and major accidents all across the country.

You must be cautious wherever there’s a possibility of animal crossing. Also, keep an eye for the animal crossing signs while driving through forest areas. 

17. Racing

Street racing is one of the deadliest activities that can cause serious injuries and deaths. Testing the limits of a car or bike puts the driver/rider and other people on the road in grave danger. High-speed racing leaves little to no chances of survival of drivers/riders if met with an accident.

How to avoid road accidents

While unforeseen situations are possible on the road, you can avoid many potential accidents by taking minor precautionary measures. Below are the most important tips to avoid road accidents.

1. Follow traffic rules and signs

Traffic rules and signs are created for the prevention of road accidents in India. From traffic signals to speed limits, you must follow each and every rule to diminish the chances of accidents. 

2. Buy a safe car

No matter how experienced you are as a driver, accidents can happen. In such situations, you can only hope for minimal injuries and the safety of your life. A car with reliable accidental protection features like airbags can help you minimise the impact of an accident.

Also, you should look for safety features that can prevent accidents. Features like ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), fog lamps, rear defoggers, etc., will reduce the chances of an accident while driving.

Read more: 10 best cars for Indian roads

3. Be an attentive driver

Sounds basic, but it is extremely important to never distract yourself while driving. Keep your eyes on the road and avoid multitasking like talking on the phone, texting, etc. 

Your attentiveness is the only way to protect you from the mistakes of other drivers and riders. Thus, you must avoid driving or riding under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating drug. 

Moreover, you must avoid driving when you are sleepy or too tired to focus. In such situations, you can have a designated driver or use public transport.

4. Avoid overspeeding

You should be strict with the speed limits of the road you are driving on. Overspeeding increases the chances of collision and rollover when brakes are applied suddenly. You must also adjust your speed as per the speed of other vehicles driving around you to maintain a safe distance. 

5. Maintain tyres’ health

You should keep your vehicle’s tyres in check. Follow correct tyre rotation techniques to ensure that they wear evenly. Also, make sure that you replace old or damaged tyres on time to avoid sudden bursts while driving.

Frequently asked questions

Below are frequently asked questions about the causes of accidents on roads and their prevention.

How can I be safe while driving?


The most important rule of being safe while driving is following traffic laws. Beyond that, you need to ensure that you are in a healthy mental and physical condition to drive. Regular checkups of your vehicle are also beneficial to avoid fatal mechanical failures while driving.

What should I do in case of an accident?


In case you find yourself in a road accident and are able to move, here is what you can do.

  • Look for injuries on your body.

  • Try to control bleeding (if any).

  • Call or ask someone to call for an ambulance (Dial 102).

  • If possible, take pictures of the vehicle and accident site. It will help while filing an FIR or raising insurance claims.

What is the Global NCAP rating for cars?


Global NCAP or New Car Assessment Program gives ratings to cars based on their quality and effectiveness of safety features. You can refer to Global NCAP safety ratings to evaluate a car’s safety quotient while buying one.

What age group causes most accidents?


As per the MoRTH report 2019, most citizens getting involved in road accidents fall into the age group between 18 years and 35 years.

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