Study: Most Common Violations Following Fatal Crashes was Reckless Driving

A study using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into offenses that drivers involved in deadly crashes are most likely to be charged with shows the most common charge is reckless driving, followed by license and registration violations.

The study by pre-settlement legal funding company High Rise Financial analyzed NHTSA data on drivers involved in fatal collisions between 2012 and 2021.

The figures revealed that the most common type of violation drivers were charged with was being reckless or careless, with 23,663 drivers charged with offenses in this category between 2012 and 2021 out of 507,728 drivers involved in deadly crashes. That equates to 4.66% of all drivers involved in fatal collisions.

The state where drivers were most likely to be charged with the violation after a deadly crash was Colorado, at 16.02%. Nevada had the second highest rate of 14.95%, while New Jersey was third with 13.80%.

The second most common charge for drivers involved in a deadly collision was license and registration violations, such as driving while license withdrawn. Over the period studied, 3.92% of drivers involved in fatal crashes received that charge.

New Hampshire was the state where driving while license withdrawn was most common, with 367 out of 1,531 drivers in fatal crashes. That violation occured second most often in Washington, with 13.62% of drivers being charged, while Delaware was in third place on 12.21%, the study shows.

The third most common violation that drivers were charged with after being involved in a fatal accident was impairment offenses, such as driving while intoxicated. In total, 3.92% of drivers in deadly collisions received this charge.

Impairment offenses were most likely in Nevada, with 407 out of 4,469 drivers in deadly crashes being charged with one, which equates to 9.11%. Delaware had the second highest rate, on 6.63%, while North Dakota was third on 5.56%.

The most common violations charged following a fatal crash

Violation % of drivers involved in fatal crashes who were charged # of drivers charged
Reckless 4.66% 23,663
License 3.92% 19,888
Impairment 2.64% 13,429
Turning 1.32% 6,698
Wrong side 1.17% 5,960
Speed related 0.84% 4,252
Traffic sign 0.65% 3,285
Total 15.20% 77,175