The Top 5 Causes of Traffic Collisions in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic congestion and accidents. According to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), 312 people were killed in traffic collisions in 2022, a 5% increase over the previous year and a 29% increase since 2020. These shocking statistics reveal the need for safer streets and safer drivers. If you or someone you know suffered injuries in a traffic collision, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The Law Offices of Daniel Kim is one of L.A.’s top personal injury law firms with a 99% success rate. To learn more about filing personal injury lawsuits, call our personal injury attorney in Los Angeles at (213) 839-3442


Common Causes of Accidents in Los Angeles

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Car accidents are a common cause of personal injury claims. Many of these accidents are caused by drivers who violate traffic laws. According to the L.A.P.D., these are the top five violations that lead to the most traffic collisions:


1. Following Too Closely 

Violation 21703. “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.”

Also known as tailgating, following too closely is the most common traffic violation in Los Angeles. Since tailgating is so common, rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident not just in California, but the entire U.S. Depending on the speed of the vehicles, these accidents can be minor or very serious. In most cases, the driver trailing behind is at fault. 

When a driver fails to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them, they have less time to stop if the vehicle suddenly breaks. California, like many other states, recommends following the “three-second rule” to maintain enough distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you. 

Following the three-second rule is simple. When the vehicle ahead of you passes a fixed point, such as a sign or a tree, count three seconds until you pass the same point. If you pass it sooner than three seconds, you are following too close and need to slow down and increase your distance.


2. Running Red Lights

Violation 21453“A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown.” 

Running red lights is another common violation that can cause serious and fatal injuries to other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 1,109 people were killed and an estimated 127,000 people were injured in crashes involving red light running in 2021. California also ranks as the worst state for crashes due to red light running. 

To prevent people from running red lights, California has implemented the use of red light cameras at intersections. These cameras snap a photo when a driver crosses an intersection while the traffic light is red. The ticket is then mailed to the car owner’s home. According to the L.A.P.D, California recently doubled the fine for red light violations.  

There is no fine for driving through a yellow light, as long as the light does not turn red before you cross the intersection. 


3. Driving Under the Influence

Violation 23152: “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.”

Impaired driving crashes almost always end up in tragedy, especially when they involve teen drivers. In California, driving under the influence laws apply to both alcohol and drugs, which can equally inhibit the driver’s ability to drive safely. 

It is illegal to drive if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of: 

  • 0.08% or higher if you are over 21 years old.
  • 0.01% or higher if you are under 21 years old.

A DUI can result in jail time, fines, probation time, a loss of the driver’s license, and other penalties. 


4. Speeding

Violation 22350: “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”

According to the NHTSA, speeding is involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities in the U.S. Los Angeles is no stranger to speeding, and the city has plans to install speed cameras to deter drivers from speeding or street racing on certain streets.

Speeding vehicles pose an especially high risk to pedestrians and bicyclists. According to safety advocacy group Streets Are For Everyone, 159 pedestrians and cyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2022, up 20% from 2021. Speeding accidents almost always result in severe or fatal injuries. The higher the speed of the vehicle, the greater risk of catastrophic injury or death. 


5. Left Turns 

Violation 21801: “A driver may not negotiate a left turn when another vehicle is approaching head on, that is so close as to be a hazard.” 

Turning left at a busy intersection causes countless accidents in Los Angeles. One study found that 61% of all car crashes at intersections involved a left-hand turn. Left turns can be extremely dangerous because they involve crossing or turning into the path of oncoming traffic. Unprotected left turns without a designated left turn arrow cause frustration for many L.A. drivers. 

If the driver fails to yield the right of way or signal, they may collide with an oncoming vehicle, bicyclist, or motorcyclist already in the lane. A car who is making a quick left turn on red may hit pedestrians crossing at the crosswalk.


What To Do After a Traffic Accident in Los Angeles

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Most personal injury victims feel disoriented and in shock after an accident. This is completely normal. If you are not severely injured, here is what to do (and what not to do) after a car accident:

  1. Stop and exchange information: Legally, you must stop and exchange information with the other party involved in the accident. Get their name, phone number, address, license plate number, driver’s license number, and insurance information. 
  2. Call 911 if there is significant property damage or injuries: Call 911 for serious accidents involving any kind of injury. If there is no injury, you do not need to call 911. However, you may still file a collision report with the local police station. 
  3. Take photos of the accident: Photos, videos, and a written account of the accident will help prove fault and aid in the car accident claims process. 
  4. Talk to witnesses: If there were witnesses to your accident, get their contact information and a statement. 
  5. Don’t admit fault: Do not apologize or admit fault, because doing so can hurt your chances if you plan to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the insurance company calls you, do not discuss details of the accident. 
  6. Talk to a personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement: If you accept the first offer from the insurance company, you will not be able to pursue further compensation or legal action for your car accident claim. Our personal injury attorney in Los Angeles can help you win the settlement you deserve. 


Call a Top-Rated Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer

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Even a minor traffic collision can cause stress, pain, and a feeling of hopelessness. If you sustained injuries in a wreck due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover financial compensation in a personal injury claim. A claim can cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Addiotnally, our personal injury lawyer can help you file a wrongful death case if you lost a loved one.

Our Los Angeles personal injury law firm has the experience and success rate to get you the compensation you need. Our legal team understands the ins and outs of California personal injury laws, and will be with you every step of the journey. Visit our law firm, located on Wilshire Boulevard right off the I-110 in Downtown Los Angeles. You may also call us or send us a message to schedule your free consultation with our personal injury attorney.