Types of Car Accidents

The Arizona Department of Transportation tracks the different types of car accidents in the state. This data can reveal insights into the most common types of car accidents, what causes them, and how drivers can avoid them.

According to ADOT data, rear-end collisions represent the most common type of car accident, representing more than 38% of all total crashes in 2022. Side impact crashes are the next most common type of car accident, representing more than 19% of all crashes for the same year.

Regardless of type, all car accidents can be dangerous. At the very least, an accident can cause damage to your vehicle and cause you to have unnecessary stress. Therefore, it’s a good idea to understand the common types of car accidents. It’s also a good idea to understand less common but more deadly types of car accidents, such as head-on collisions and rollover accidents.

Rear-End Accidents

As the answer to the question, “What is the most common type of car accident?”: Rear-end collisions happen to just about everybody. If you haven’t been in a rear-end collision, just know that it’s probably only a matter of time.

Rear-end accidents happen for many different reasons. However, the most common types of rear-end accidents involve excessive speed, driving under the influence, distracted driving, and/or one driver following too closely.

There’s an old saying that you are always at fault if you hit someone from behind. This is often the case, but it’s not true all the time. If you are following someone and they stop suddenly, or their brake lights aren’t working, and you end up hitting them, you have a strong case for not being at fault in this situation. That being said, it’s always a good idea to leave enough distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

While many accidents are handled exclusively through insurance claims, finding fault becomes relevant when someone pursues legal action. The driver or drivers found to be at fault for an accident could be held liable for damages suffered by accident victims. Arizona is a comparative fault state, which means drivers may share responsibility for their own injuries and the injuries they cause to others.

If a victim is found partly at fault, their compensation is reduced by the percentage they are to blame. For example, if a victim suffered $100,000 in damages but is found to be 30% at fault, then they are only entitled to $70,000.

Head-On Collisions

When the front ends of two or more vehicles collide, it is considered a head-on collision. Although they are not the most common types of car accidents, head-on collisions must be avoided at all costs because they are so deadly. These accidents create a tremendous amount of force because heavy vehicles are traveling to a single collision point from opposite directions at a high rate of speed. The physics of this event can cause the front ends of vehicles involved to be smashed in completely, and such a massive amount of force often creates a deadly situation.

One of the most common causes of a head-on collision is when a car crosses over the double line and into opposing traffic. Another major cause of head-on collisions is a driver traveling the wrong way on a one-way road. Typically, the driver traveling in the wrong direction is at fault for a head-on collision. However, there are some rare situations where road design results in an unacceptably high risk of head-on collision. Another rare situation might be if a defect in the vehicle, such as a problem with the steering mechanism, results in a head-on collision. It’s also possible that both drivers involved in a head-on collision played a role in causing the accident.

Side-Impact Crashes

When the side of someone else’s vehicle scrapes along the side of your car, it can cause significant damage and even a serious accident, even though the collision happens at an angle.

Side-impact crashes are some of the most common types of car accidents. These accidents can be dangerous for a few reasons.

  • First, these collisions often happen without warning, as both vehicles typically travel in the same direction, and most drivers keep their eyes forward on the road in front of them.
  • Second, the driver has the least amount of protection from their vehicle when it’s hit on the driver’s side. By comparison, the driver has much more protection during head-on and rear-end collisions.
  • Third, a side impact sends your vehicle sideways, causing you to lose control. Loss of control is particularly dangerous when the side impact happens towards the rear of the car. This type of collision can send the car into a spin.

Because they often happen outside your field of vision, side impact crashes are the most difficult to avoid common types of car accidents. These collisions are usually caused by a driver aggressively switching lanes or weaving in and out of traffic. Sign impact crashes can also be caused by a driver changing lanes without using their turn signal.

The blind spots in a vehicle are typically the biggest culprit when it comes to this common type of car accident. Every vehicle has a blind spot; some are much larger than others, and their size is usually related to the size of the vehicle. The blind spots on tractor-trailers are quite large. When you try to pass an 18-wheeler, just know that at some point, the driver will have no idea where you are.

The following tips can help you avoid this most common type of car accident.

  • Always check your blind spots. Checking your blind spots only takes a second or two, and it’s a good way to be aware of what’s going on around you, which is critical before changing lanes.
  • Give a wide berth to large vehicles. Be especially careful when passing tractor-trailers. Avoid lingering alongside one of these large trucks and speed up if you feel like you are spending too long next to a big truck.
  • Merge at speed. If you are traveling at a much different pace than the traffic alongside you, it makes it more difficult to anticipate how much room you have to merge.
  • Drive defensively. It’s always a good idea to assume the worst of the drivers around you, especially when merging. When you are passing another vehicle, assume that they do not see you and might enter your lane of travel.


If we asked you, “What is the most common type of car accident?” – you probably wouldn’t say rollover crashes. Considered accidents involving a vehicle rotating at least one-quarter on its longest axis, these aren’t very common, but they are especially dangerous. According to the National Institutes of Health, only about 2% of all crashes involve a rollover, yet they are responsible for around one-third of all accident fatalities.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, several risk factors significantly increase the risk of a rollover accident. Drivers involved in rollover accidents tend to be young and male. These accidents also are more likely to happen on two-way roads without a divider. An overwhelming majority of rollover accidents take place on roads with a speed limit greater than 55 miles an hour, and 40% of fatal rollover crashes involve speeding. Trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles with a high center of gravity are more likely to roll over, especially in bad conditions.

Every type of car accident should be avoided, but extra care should be taken to avoid rollover accidents because they are so deadly. Don’t overload your vehicle, and make sure any heavy loads are tightly secured. Follow the speed limits when taking corners and consider the driving conditions.

There are also things you can do during a rollover accident that can improve your chances of survival. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use the following tips.

  • If you start to tilt, turn the wheel of your vehicle in the direction that you’re tilting.
  • If you feel the vehicle start to roll, cross your arms and place them against your chest, grabbing your shoulders. Tuck your chin inside your elbows to create a “turtle” position.
  • Don’t brace your hands against the floor steering wheel while you are rolling. This creates an exposed posture, and it’s hard to maintain during the accident.
  • After the car stopped rolling, shut off the engine immediately. Plant your hands or feet on the ceiling and carefully unbuckle your seatbelt. Exit through the window or door and call 911.

Regardless of the type of car accident you experienced, you should contact an experienced attorney to review your case as well as your options.

The Attorneys at Gerber Injury Law Can Help With Your Case

At Gerber Injury Law, our attorneys have seen all types of Arizona car accidents. We’ve seen rollover accidents in remote rural areas, and our lawyers have seen rear-end accidents in Phoenix. No matter the details of your case, it’s likely we’ve seen it before.

If you have been in a car accident or your loved one was killed in a car accident, contact us today or call 623-486-8300 to connect to a sympathetic legal professional who understands your situation and can take care of your needs.

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