Skip to Main Content

Top Causes of Car Crashes in Seattle

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), there were 14,508 car crashes reported in Seattle in 2015 — the most recent year for which comprehensive data has been made available. Collectively, these motor vehicle collisions resulted in nearly 5,000 injuries. Tragically, there were also 22 fatal accidents reported in the city.

Car crashes happen for a wide range of different reasons. That being said, most accidents involve some form of driver error and could have been prevented with proper care. Here, our personal injury lawyers in Washington review the latest Annual Collision Summary from WSDOT and we provide an overview of the six most common causes of car accidents in Washington.

The Top Six Causes of Auto Accidents in Seattle

  1. Inattention/Distracted Driving

WSDOT reports that distracted driving/driver inattention is the leading cause of car crashes. In 2015, nearly half of all accidents in Washington were caused — at least partially — by distracted driving or by an inattentive driver. Distracted driving is negligent driving. All drivers have a legal duty to keep their full attention on the road at all times.

Worryingly, there is evidence that the distracted driving problem is getting worse. Virtually all drivers have access to smartphones and other electronic devices. The temptation to let one’s eyes wander off the road is only growing stronger. Drivers must stay focused. It should be noted that public safety officials have taken action to fight back against distracted driving. Recently, Washington enacted a new distracted driving law.

  1. Speeding/Driving Too Fast For Road Conditions

Speeding is one of the most common causes of car crashes in our region. In urban areas like Seattle, speeding is especially dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. All motorists must be safe on our city’s busy, crowded streets. Drivers have a duty to operate their vehicle at a safe speed at all times. Notably, the maximum posted speed limit is not always a safe speed. If the weather conditions are poor, drivers must slow down to adjust.

  1. Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way

Many collisions occur because drivers improperly fail to yield the right-of-way. Everyone on the road must be extremely careful when entering intersections or when making turns. The failure to safely yield the right-of-way can surprise other drivers, and it can lead to very serious accidents.

  1. Following Too Closely

Many rear-end collisions occur because a driver is tailgating or following another vehicle too closely. In an environment like Seattle, vehicles are often forced to make quick and unexpected stops. Drivers need to leave enough space between each other so that everyone can make a safe stop.

  1. Intoxicated Driving Accidents (DUI)

Drunk driving is among the top causes of auto accidents in Seattle. These accidents also tend to be disproportionately severe. WSDOT reports that drunk driving/drugged driving is a factor in slightly less than five percent of all traffic accidents in Washington. However, nearly one-third of fatal accidents involve intoxicated driving.

Drunk drivers and drugged drivers are frequently distracted, speeding, and committing other traffic violations, all while having their reaction time and driving ability dramatically reduced. When drunk drivers cause serious injuries to innocent people, they must be held accountable — both criminally and through personal injury claims. 

  1. Defective Equipment/Poor Vehicle Maintenance 

Another common cause of car accidents in Seattle is defective equipment. Accidents that occur as the result of defective equipment may be the fault of a driver, a mechanic, or a vehicle manufacturer. In some cases, motorists fail to take proper care of their vehicle, and fail to perform the regular, routine maintenance necessary for safe driving. In other cases, defective equipment is the fault of vehicle manufacturers — tires, brakes, engines, or other auto parts can fail without warning.

Get Help From the Best Seattle Attorneys

At The Walthew Law Firm, our local car accident attorneys have deep experience handling car accident claims. If you or your loved one was injured in a car accident, please do not hesitate to call us today at (206) 539-1929. With offices in Seattle and Everett, we serve communities throughout the region.

Call us today.
Offices in Seattle and Everett.

Talk to an attorney to get free advice about your claim.


Mailing Address
PO Box 34645
Seattle, WA 98124-1645
*Packages and overnight deliveries should be shipped to the Seattle physical address.

Seattle Office
3000 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

Everett Office
2906 Colby Ave | Suite 101
Everett, WA 98201

Request an appointment

Schedule a free consultation >