Common Causes of Car Accidents in Maryland

There are various ways that car accidents can be caused in Maryland, some of them more common than others. It is good to recognize the various possible causes of these accidents and to be aware of them, but no matter what caused your accident, it is always advisable to consult with a Maryland car accident attorney and discuss possible damages.

Running Red Lights

The common causes of car accidents include the running of red lights, which means that the at-fault party has failed to adhere to the traffic control devices. Rather than stopping, they entered an intersection that is controlled by that traffic control device illegally and against the right of way of other parties, and therefore are considered at-fault in the accident.

Running red lights is a very dangerous violation of the law resulting in serious accidents when the other parties who have the green light proceed accordingly and have the proper expectation that other parties on the roadway are adhering to the laws of the highway. Because of the at-fault party’s violation of the traffic control device others are put in peril by the at-fault party’s conduct.

Because it is unexpected, in many respects, these collisions can result in very serious accidents because the injured party cannot take evasive action to try to avoid the collision, thereby resulting in a very forceful impact, which results in serious injury.

Running Stop Signs

Generally, another cause of accidents or collisions in Maryland is running stop signs. Similarly, the nature of a violation of the traffic control device of a stop sign is unexpected and the at-fault party who runs the stop sign is cutting off the right of way of the other party on the adjacent highway and impeding their right of way, thereby causing serious accidents.

The violation in both of these instances of running a red light and running a stop sign, since they are violations of the motor vehicle law, can provide a presumption of negligence in a case. Anytime there is a violation of a statute that is called negligence per se, this violation meets the burden of the plaintiff to prove a duty and breach of duty by a violation of a statute, which is negligence. It is the burden of proof of the plaintiff in the case to prove negligence.

Driving At Night

Another common cause of accidents in Maryland is driving at night. The issues of visibility, driving conditions, and, in many instances, pedestrians or bicycle riders provide for unique facts in a case. Because of the issue of visibility, the question becomes the lighting conditions with a vehicle driving with headlights on and any driver has to adjust his or her conduct to the conditions with which they are met and act reasonably.

Driving at night requires care and safety for other drivers on the highway, pedestrians on the highway, and bicyclists on the roadway. Pedestrians should be aware of the conditions, should wear lighter clothing to help the visibility—perhaps reflective clothing—and bicyclists who are on the roadway, in the dark, similarly should wear protective clothing for purposes of aiding the visibility of drivers and should also have proper lighting and reflective material on the bicycle to assist the drivers being able to see them at night.

Unsafe Lane Changes

Another common cause of car accidents in Maryland is unsafe lane changes.  The law requires that vehicles maintain a single lane of travel. The law also requires that any lane change be made safely and with proper signaling to alert other vehicles on the roadway of the intention of that driver. That driver must allow for proper spacing and not cut off the right of way of a driver inside the lane. Again, a violation of these other vehicle safety laws aids in the proof of negligence, because the violation of a statute is negligence per se.

Driving The Wrong Way

Another common cause of accidents in Maryland is driving the wrong way. Although it is somewhat self-evident, if another vehicle is either driving the wrong way on a one-way street or highway, or crosses the double yellow line or median on a divided highway, or any of the circumstances occur where the at-fault party causes essentially a head-on collision, they are violating the motor vehicle safety laws. That can be considered negligence per se, which is a presumption of negligence in a case.

Improper Turns

Another cause of car accidents in Maryland is improper turns. The obligation of a motor vehicle driver is to obey traffic control devices, lane markers, and other signs indicating what the rights of that driver are with respect to making a turn. In Maryland, it is allowable to make a right on red after stopping, thereby requiring a vehicle to come up to a red light, stop to ensure that traffic is clear in all directions before proceeding, and then safely and reasonably proceed on that red signal.

Other intersections do not allow for right turn on red and will have signs indicating that a right turn on red is not permissible and therefore that sign must be adhered to.

Lane markings are very important in directing the travel of the driver and those lane markings must be followed accordingly.

Turns also must be made by providing proper signaling so as to alert other drivers as to the intention of that driver with regards to direction of travel.


Another cause of car accidents in Maryland is tailgating.  It is the obligation of a driver not to follow too closely and to allow proper spacing for the speed at which the vehicles are traveling. Tailgating means that the vehicle behind another vehicle is following too closely and is not allowing proper spacing. The rule of thumb is for every 10 miles per hour, you should allow a car length, so if you are going 50 miles an hour, then you should allow five car lengths or approximately 50 feet between vehicles.  It allows for proper reaction time and the space needed to be able to stop suddenly and allow for traffic conditions and other circumstances, which will require the car in front to come to a stop and for the rear car to be able to come to a complete stop with enough clearance to avoid an accident.