Single-vehicle crash

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A Dodge Ram 3500 rams into a Taco Bell in the autumn of 2010

A single-vehicle collision or single-vehicle accident is, as the name implies, a type of road traffic collision in which only one vehicle is involved. Included in this category are run-off-road collisions, collisions with fallen rocks or debris in the road, rollover crashes within the roadway, and collisions with animals.

The term single-vehicle collision is not generally used unless the rider or driver and passengers of the vehicle are the only ones injured. Although in some cases innocent bystanders (e.g. pedestrians or bicyclists) can also be hurt or killed, the term single-vehicle collision is unlikely to be used to describe such collisions.

The normal inference is that the cause is operator error. Common factors contributing to single-vehicle collisions include excessive speed, driver fatigue[1] and driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.[2] Environmental and roadway factors can also contribute to single-vehicle crashes. These include inclement weather, poor drainage, narrow lanes and shoulders, insufficient curve banking and sharp curves.[3] Some vehicles have unpredictable car handling characteristics or defects, which can increase the potential for a single-vehicle collision.

Suicide is also sometimes cited as a possible cause of single-vehicle collisions, although this is difficult to determine.[4][5]


  1. ^ "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses". Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  2. ^ Cohen, Sidney (1985). The substance abuse problems 2. New York and Binghamton: Haworth Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-86656-368-7. Retrieved 14 Apr 2009. 
  3. ^ Neuman, Timothy (2003). NCHRP Report 500, Volume 6: A Guide for Addressing Run-Off-Road Collisions (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Transportation Research Board. ISBN 0-309-08760-0. 
  4. ^ Noel Baker (November 21, 2013). "10% of single vehicle crashes are 'suicide bids'". Irish Examiner. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  5. ^ Peck, Dennis L.; Warner, Kenneth (Summer 1995). "Accident or Suicide? Single-Vehicle Car Accidents and the Intent Hypothesis". Adolescence (Libra Publishers) 30 (118): 463–72. ISSN 0001-8449. Retrieved March 27, 2013.