‘Failure to look properly’ is the most common contributory factor included in more 30,000 vehicle accidents a year, according to a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Transport (DfT).
Police can record up to six contributory factors from a list of 77 for each incident to explain why they think a crash took place but the top two give the most obvious reasons for the incident.
Analysis by the IAM of the 2013 contributory factor combinations found that top of the list was ‘failure to look properly’ combined with a ‘failure to judge another person's path or speed’. These two together were responsible for 13,299 accidents, or 7% of the total number.
Next up was ‘failure to look properly’ combined with ‘carelessness or recklessness’, or ‘judged to be in a hurry’. These totalled 9,132 accidents, or 5% of the total.
Third was ‘failure to judge another driver’s path or speed’, combined with ‘carelessness or recklessness’, or ‘judged to be in a hurry’. Together these were judged to be a causation factor in 4,339 accidents, or 2% of the total.
This combination of reasons showed an increase from 2010 of 363, where there were 8,638 accidents caused by these two together.
More than 3,000 accidents were caused by ’slippery roads due to weather conditions’ combined with ‘loss of vehicle control’ (number seven on the list) and 1,470 accidents caused by ‘excessive speed’ combined with’ losing control of the vehicle’ (number 17).
Failure to look appears twice more in the top 20 with ‘aggressive driving’ combined with ‘carelessness or recklessness’, or ‘judged to be in a hurry’ bottom of the list. These were the cause of 1,418 accidents.
The top 20 combinations of reasons totalled some 200,074 accidents.
Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “These figures show conclusively that simple human errors continue to cause the majority of accidents. Drivers cannot blame something or someone else for a collision happening, it is down to every one of us to make a difference.
“We feel that many people eventually get complacent behind the wheel and inattention creeps in. Combine this with fatigue and distractions, inside and outside the vehicle and the message is clear that drivers must apply their full attention to driving – you simply cannot do two things at once if one of them is driving.
“We have consistently advocated that continuous assessment is one of the main ways to ensure no driver gets into bad behaviours that cannot then be rectified.”
Two weeks ago the DfT published the latest accident statistics for Britain which showed overall casualties have risen for the first time in 18 years.
The figures show there were 1,775 reported road deaths in 2014, an increase of 4% compared with 2013. The number of those killed or seriously injured in Britain increased by 5% to 24,582. There were a total of 194,477 casualties of all severities, an increase of 6% - the first increase in overall casualties since 1997.