Types of Traffic Accidents

Crash testing helps reduce fatalities during traffic accidents. This article describes the various types of traffic accidents that can happen on the road.

Traffic accidents occur when a vehicle collides with another vehicle. They are caused by road obstruction, pedestrian, crossing or lingering animal or a stationary obstruction such as tree or utility pole. The common kinds of traffic accidents are vehicle rear end collisions, side impact collisions, vehicle rollover, sideswipe collisions, head-on collisions, single car accidents and multiple vehicle pile-ups.

Rear-end collision

A rear end collision occurs when one car hits the rear of the car in front of it. A rear end collision usually happens when the vehicle ahead suddenly decelerates or when the vehicle behind suddenly accelerates. Injuries to the passengers of the impacted vehicle are usually greater than those of the passengers of the impacting vehicle.

Side-impact collision

Side impact collisions occur when the side of a vehicle is hit by the front or rear of another vehicle. Side impact collisions result in more severe injuries and vehicle damage. However, injuries and damage may be severe depending on how reliable the safety features of vehicles are such as air bags, crumple zones, vehicle construction and materials.

Sideswipe collision

Sideswipe collisions are collisions involving the adjacent sides of two vehicles. Sideswipe contacts usually result only to cosmetic damage.


A vehicle rollover occurs when vehicle flips over its side or roof and usually happens when the vehicle makes a high speed sharp turn. Tall vehicles such as SUVs are usually susceptible to a rollover accident since they have a high center of gravity.

Head on collisions

Head on collisions are considered very fatal especially when these collisions involve two vehicles traveling at very high speed.

Single car accident

A single car accident is also one of the many kinds of vehicle accidents but only involves one vehicle. A vehicle may be involved in a single car accident when such instances e.g. driver losing vehicle control due to drowsiness and feeling asleep, brake malfunction occur.

Multiple vehicle pile-up

A multiple vehicle pile-up is an accident involving many vehicles and usually happening in freeways or highways. Damage to many vehicles and lives makes this kind of accident one of the deadliest traffic accident since some vehicles are not only hit once but multiple times and from different directions. Cars even spin during a pile-up accident increasing the risk of serious injuries and lost of lives to passengers. Those who decide to escape at once from their vehicles are still at risk of being hit by other upcoming vehicles. The cause of multi-vehicle collisions is often hard to determine.