Most Common Causes of RTA's And How To Avoid Them

Published: 24/06/2019

How many people are injured in road traffic accidents (RTAs) each year here in the UK? What are the most common accidents? How can we avoid them? In this article, our personal injury team explains everything you need to know about RTAs… and how to stay safe on the road.

Each and every year tens of thousands of people are injured on roads around the UK.

Last year, there were:

  • 96,370 casualties involving cars
  • 23,090 pedestrian casualties
  • 17,520 bicycle casualties
  • 17,210 motorbike injuries
  • 10,910 children injured
  • 5,620 child pedestrian injuries

(Figures based on Government estimates for the year ending June 2018).

That’s a whole lot of people whose lives are seriously impacted and, in some cases, changed forever due to carelessness on the road. While some accidents simply are that, many others can be avoided.

According to, the most common causes of road traffic accidents (RTAs) in Britain include:

  • Tiredness
  • Speeding
  • Distractions
  • Weather conditions
  • Drink driving

With the exception of weather conditions, all of these other factors can be avoided or eliminated. It is the responsibility of all road users to act in a safe and responsible manner, at all times.

Top tips on how to avoid an accident while driving:


It seems obvious, right? Don’t drive while tired! Of course, life isn’t always so simple and inevitably tiredness will occur while you’re behind the wheel. To avoid being too drastically impacted by tiredness when on the road, try to:

  • Have a break every few hours or, as the Australians would say, Stop Revive Survive. Even just five minutes to stretch your legs or maybe grab a cup of coffee can make the world of difference and help you avoid the dreaded microslip (where you involuntarily and momentarily loose consciousness) known to cause countless road traffic accidents. Swapping drivers and doing shifts, if you’re driving with somebody else with a valid licence, is also a good idea.
  • It goes without saying, but, if at all possible, get a good sleep the night before a long journey. 
  • Prepare a flask of hot tea or coffee for your trip. Even just the mental stimulation of sipping on something, whether it contains caffeine or not, is useful in staying alert.
  • Listen to music you enjoy or even a podcast or language course while driving, provided you don’t easily get distracted of course. It’s all about keeping your brain awake!


  • For most people, a little music or an enjoyable podcast is fine while driving and may actually help you stay alert. If you’re easily distracted though, best to keep the volume down low and opt for some relaxing tunes as opposed to hardcore metal, for example! 
  • It (should) go without saying, but we’re going to say it again - never, ever use your phone while driving. If you need your phone for directions, make sure it’s mounted securely on your dashboard.
  • Teach your kids about the importance of behaving in an appropriate, quiet manner while in the car (we know, it’s not always possible!). Screaming children is simply not conducive to good driving.


  • If your destination is new, always plan your journey, look up directions beforehand and leave with plenty of time.


  • If the weather is unpleasant, always leave an extra 15-20 minutes early to allow for slower, more careful driving in these conditions.
  • Ensure your car is in tip-top condition with good quality tyres that aren’t worn out.
  • If the situation is really bad, take public transport.

Top tips on how to avoid an accident when riding a bike or motorcycle

In addition to all the above tips which of course also apply to cyclists and motorbike riders, it’s extra important for these types of road users to:

  • Avoid driving in the blind spot of larger vehicles.
  • When a car is backing up, assume they won’t see you in time to stop. Let them finish and then continue on your way.
  • If a car is merging into your lane, give them space. If they can’t see you they will run you over.
  • Watch out for any obstructions (e.g. potholes) on the roads.
  • Be careful of cars turning left at intersections. This a common place where accidents involving cyclists and motorcyclists occur.
  • Practice braking, especially in an emergency situation.
  • Ensure your bike is well maintained and the tyres are in tip-top condition.

Top tips for staying safe as a pedestrian:

  • Always walk on the footpath or, if there isn’t one, facing traffic as close to the side as possible.
  • Watch for turning traffic or vehicles coming out of driveways.
  • Look right, then left, then right again! Never step out onto the road without looking and use designated crossing areas wherever possible.
  • If you are going to be close to the road for an extended period of time (e.g. you’re exercising or jogging near a road) wear bright-coloured clothing with reflective stripes, so drivers can clearly spot you.

What should I do if I’m involved in a road traffic accident?

Some things you can do to strengthen your case and assist your solicitor to secure the best compensation possible for you include:

  • Take photographs (or ask somebody there to do so for you) that clearly show details of the accident scene, the position of the vehicles on the road, the damage to both vehicle and the driver of the other vehicle. Smartphone photos are fine, but the better the quality, the more useful they will be.
  • Get the full name, contact details, address and insurance details of the offending driver.
  • Get the names, contact details and addresses of other pedestrians or bystanders who witnessed the incident.
  • Visit your nearest police station and file a report of the accident, particularly if the other driver flees the scene, refuses to give details of you have suspicions they were under the influence of drugs/alcohol. If you’re unable to get there, phone them and ask for advice.
  • Seek medical attention for any injuries you sustain as soon as possible and keep records of your doctor’s diagnosis and treatments.
  • Write down any expenses directly related to your accident such as medical bills, transportation to and from the hospital, purchase of any medicines or mobility aids, etc.
Contact a reputable personal injury solicitor as soon as possible.

Finding the right personal injury solicitor for you

  • Checking their online reviews on platforms such as Google Reviews or Solicitor.Info, Google’s official platform for solicitor reviews. GWlegal has a five-star (maximum) rating on Solicitor.Info, for example.
  • Asking for information about the firm’s background and achievements - GWlegal has been practising law for almost 30 years and has won numerous awards.
  • Requesting a phone call or meeting with the person who will be overseeing your case. Putting a face to a firm can really help you decide whether its the right choice for you. Meet the GW team here.

How much compensation will I receive?

One of the most common questions we are asked by our personal injury clients is, ‘how much compensation am I entitled to?’ The answer to this question entirely depends on your own individual circumstances. It could range from a few hundred pounds to tens of thousands.

Some factors that will determine how much compensation you receive include:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The cost of medical treatments, prescribed medication, recommended procedures, short & long term rehabilitation etc.
  • The cost of travelling to and from the hospital for medical treatment
  • Any damages to your personal property
  • Mental trauma
  • Lost income, perks or promotions due to having to stay away from work.
  • Out of pocket expenses for the purchase of mobility aids, hiring a home-nurse or making structural changes to the home or to your vehicle to accommodate your disabilities.
  • And more.

Either way, it’s important to remember that sustaining a personal injury can have a major impact on your life as well as that of your loved ones. There is no shame in claiming compensation to help you get by - in fact, you are entitled to it, by law. Compensation for personal injury is a cornerstone of our right to access to justice.

Who are GWlegal?

GWlegal is a personal injury solicitors based in Liverpool, specialising in road traffic accidents, cycling accidents, accidents at work, accidents in a public place and serious injury claims.

If you have a legal matter you wish to discuss don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 0345 373 3737 or email us hello@gw.legall with your question.

Who are GWlegal? We’re a national firm with local values.

Have you been involved in a RTA?

Get in touch
Content correct at time of publication.
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