What Are Some Common Causes of New York City Car Accidents?

As one of the busiest cities in America, it should come as no surprise that there are thousands of car accidents on the streets of New York City every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the New York City Police Department, most car accidents in the city are a result of driver negligence or operator error. So, what are the most common causes of traffic accidents in New York City?

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Distracted Driving:

Driving while distracted is classed as driver negligence and can lead to some serious accidents on the road. Many serious injuries and even fatalities in traffic accidents are caused by various forms of distracted driving. With a rise in driverless technology in cars, there have been several accidents caused by the operator not paying attention to the road while the car is in auto-pilot. Other common forms of distracted driving generally include driving while using a cell phone, tablet, or music device. But, drivers can often also be distracted by other things, such as adjusting the car stereo or even talking with passengers who are riding in the car. 

In the State of New York, it is illegal for a driver to hold or interact with any portable devices while driving, unlike many other states that allow cell phone use for voice communication. You are permitted to use a handheld device if it’s possible to use it without using either hand, such as using Siri to make a call using a cell phone in a holder. Texting while driving in New York is a primary offense, and the police can pull you over if they suspect you of texting while driving, even if you have not committed another traffic violation. 


It’s important for drivers to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. As a general rule of thumb, you should leave one car length for every ten mph that you’re driving, so if you’re traveling at 30 miles per hour, you should leave three car lengths between your vehicle and the one in front. Tailgating occurs when a driver is following the vehicle in front of them too closely and can lead to serious accidents if the vehicle in front stops suddenly and the car behind does not have enough room to stop safely. In New York, tailgating is considered to be a form of aggressive driving, and you can be stopped by the police if they see your car too close to the vehicle in front. 

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol:

Being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol when driving is a primary offense, but it causes many accidents in New York City each year. Even if you have not taken any illegal drugs or drank alcohol, some prescription drugs can alter your ability to react to situations on the road. One might think that living in a city like New York where there is plenty of public transportation available, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol might not be such a big problem, but sadly, this is far from the truth. In just one month in New York City, there were almost 200 injuries and fatalities caused by car accidents due to the driver being under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs and/or alcohol. 


Driving above the speed limit or driving too fast for the road conditions are huge causes of traffic accidents in New York City. Driving too fast in conditions like heavy traffic or bad weather means that you won’t have the proper reaction time to avoid an accident or stop quickly if you need to. Speed limits are there for a reason but sadly, drivers who disregard them lead to hundreds of accidents on the roads of New York City. If you are involved in a car accident while speeding, the risk of serious injuries to yourself and your passengers increases significantly. 

Fatigued Driving:

According to the New York City Police Department, there are many car accidents caused by drivers who are too tired to be behind the wheel, all of which are completely preventable. Driving while you are exhausted not only slows down your reaction times in the event of a potential crash but could also leave you in serious danger if you begin to fall asleep at the wheel. If you are too tired to drive, don’t chance it – have a nap if you’ve got the time, ask a friend for a ride or use public transport instead. 

Disregarding Road Signs:

New York City is certainly one of the fastest-paced cities on earth, but sadly, this has led to drivers who speed up to get through stoplights at the last minute and have complete disregard for stop signs and other road signs. Not only do these driving behaviors lead to more hazards for other drivers and pedestrians on the streets of NYC, but they can also lead to serious injuries, and even death should they cause an accident. 

Other Causes of Car Accidents:

While driver error is often the largest cause of car accidents in New York City, there are several accidents that occur as a result of motor vehicle failure. Defective tires, brakes, airbags, or other car parts can lead to an accident. In some cases, roads that have not been properly maintained can increase the chance of being involved in an accident. If you have been hurt in a car crash in New York City and believe another driver or even the city itself is to blame, a good car accident lawyer can help you get the compensation that you are entitled to for damage to your vehicle, any medical bills as a result of the accident, and any loss of income that you have suffered as a result. 

New York City streets are always busy with vehicles, even though it’s got a solid public transportation system. So, it’s no surprise that many accidents occur but most of the time, they can be avoided with more careful driving.

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