Single-Vehicle Accidents in Missouri: Top Causes from Vehicle Defects to Driver Error


Single-vehicle car accidents occur when a collision or incident involves only one vehicle, without the contribution of any external factor. According to recent statistics from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), over 60% of all fatal crashes in the state involve just one vehicle.

These often-devastating accidents can be caused by a range of factors – from vehicle defects and hazardous road conditions to driver errors and intoxication. As a Missouri resident, it’s crucial to understand the common causes of single-vehicle wrecks so you can try to avoid them.

Mechanical Defects That Lead to Accidents

One of the top causes of single-car crashes is mechanical failure or defects within the vehicle itself. As vehicles age or lack proper maintenance, critical components like brakes, tires, and steering can begin to malfunction and fail while driving. Regular inspections and preventative maintenance can help avoid many of these mechanical defects before they contribute to an accident.

Worn Tires Are Especially Dangerous

One of the most dangerous and pervasive vehicle issues is worn or bald tires. As the tread wears down, traction is severely reduced, making vehicles much harder to control especially during emergency maneuvering or on wet/slippery roads. Missouri law requires at least 4/32 inches of tread depth, but even tires above this can be unsafe. Tires should be routinely inspected for wear and damage that may impact performance.

Brake Failure Can Be Catastrophic

Many single-vehicle accidents are caused by brake issues as well. From worn brake pads/rotors to problems with calipers, cylinders, hoses and other components, brake failure can instantly remove a driver’s ability to slow their speed or stop. Without properly functioning brakes, drivers can easily lose control and leave the road.

Steering System Defects Also a Factor

Problems with steering systems represent another common mechanical factor. Issues with steering linkage, ball joints, tie rods, steering columns, power steering fluid, or alignment can all impact steering response. This forces greater driver corrections and reduces vehicle control, especially at highway speeds.

A Variety of Other Vehicle Defects

Other mechanical defects like wheel separation and axle failure have also contributed to serious single-vehicle rollover incidents. Electrical issues, stuck accelerators, obscured windshield views, and problems with suspension systems can likewise remove critical vehicle control and stability on Missouri’s roadways as well.

Road Conditions and Infrastructure Hazards

Beyond vehicle defects themselves, hazardous road conditions also play a major role in single-vehicle crashes statewide. From sharp curves and obscured visibility to uneven pavement and debris, Missouri’s infrastructure introduces additional accident risks. Transportation departments work to identify and mitigate risky road areas, but many hazardous zones still remain.

Windy Rural Roads Prone to Run-Off Collisions

On rural highways and country backroads, blowing debris, loose gravel, overgrown vegetation, and eroded shoulders can all force sudden evasive maneuvers. This often results in run-off road accidents and rollovers – a common single-vehicle scenario according to data. In addition, high crown roads designed for water runoff bring additional risks. As vehicles drift towards the shoulder, the severe slope can make returning to the road difficult or lead to an abrupt overcorrection and rollover crash.

Dangerous Curves Lead to Barrier Collisions

In addition, winding roads with tight turns and curved on/off ramps carry inherently higher crash risks. As drivers navigate turns, centrifugal forces can easily cause vehicles to drift out of their lane if traveling at improper speeds. Vehicles can leave the road altogether while navigating turns at speed. Resulting impacts into side barriers, medians, and road signs are common at notorious curves and ramps throughout Missouri highways. Transportation departments have installed additional warnings and increased curve banking in select high-risk areas. However, many dangerous curves still contribute to single-vehicle wrecks annually.

Poor Visibility Contributes to Accidents

Reduced visibility during inclement weather or nighttime hours makes single-vehicle collisions more likely as well. With limited sight lines, it becomes much easier for drivers to leave their driving lane, strike roadside objects, or lose control attempting to correct.

Driver Errors and Risky Behaviors Behind the Wheel

However, the most prevalent causes of single-vehicle mishaps involve the drivers themselves. Risky behaviors like speeding, distraction, impairment, and fatigue all dramatically reduce vehicle control and reaction times.

Speeding Is a Leading Contributor

Excess speed contributes to thousands of serious Missouri collisions annually – both with other vehicles and single-car incidents. At faster speeds, drivers have much less time to react, avoid hazards and stay on the road. Higher speed also amplifies impact force and crash severity.

Distracted Driving an Increasing Concern

Driver distraction now plays a role in an estimated 15% to 30% of single-vehicle accidents as well. From mobile devices to passengers, distractions lead to slower reaction times and divert attention from the road. Even brief distractions can prove dangerous, leading to road departures or collisions.

Drowsy Driving Crashes Remain High

Driving while fatigued or sleepy is another serious risk factor. As drivers experience microsleeps behind the wheel or fail to react in time, single-vehicle scenarios become much more likely. Run-off road and rear-end crashes tend to be some of the most common drowsy driving accident scenarios.

Impaired Driving Effects Are Clear

Finally, intoxicated driving continues to be responsible for over 30% of all fatal traffic accidents in Missouri. Alcohol and drug impairment dramatically slow reflexes and decision making – leading to weaving, delayed braking, and other dangerous errors that often end in single-car crashes.

Seek Experienced Legal Support After a Crash

If you or a loved one has suffered injury or loss due to a single-vehicle accident in Missouri that involved any of these factors, an experienced car accident lawyer can advise you regarding your legal rights and options. Legal representation is critical for building a strong claim and obtaining full compensation. Reach out for a free consultation with a St. Louis personal injury lawyer today.

With compassion and diligence, we can help you work towards justice after your devastating crash. We have 32 offices in locations across 19 states including Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. You can visit us or call us for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.

Voted Best Law Firm by American Institute of Trial Lawyers