Rear-end collisions account for about one-third of all collisions on U.S. roads, making them the most common type of car accident. Worse yet, in 2016, they represented nearly 7% of all fatal crashes in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
So, why are rear-end collisions so common and, more importantly, what can you do to avoid a rear-end collision? Consider these safe-driving tips and tricks from Direct Auto Insurance.
What Causes Most Rear-End Collisions?
Several factors may cause rear-end collisions. You may be putting yourself at risk of being involved in one if you:
- Engage in distracted driving.
- Fail to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the ones ahead.
- Ignore posted speed limits and hazardous road conditions.
- Hydroplane or lose control of your car.
- Fail to yield the right of way.
- Don’t use your turn signals when changing lanes.
- Practice aggressive driving such as tailgating and brake-checking.
It’s important to mention that the driver who rear-ends another vehicle is usually found at-fault in rear-end collisions — whether they involve two cars or the result is a multi-vehicle wreck. In other words, if you’re the “tailing” driver, you’re likely to be on the hook for the property damage and medical bills caused by your front bumper.
If you find yourself in this situation, you may wish you had collision coverage along with liability coverage. Collision pays to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged in a collision, regardless of who is at fault.
How to Avoid Rear-End Collisions
Whether it’s causing a rear-end collision or being hit from behind yourself, here’s how you can set yourself up to better avoid this type of car accident.
- Make sure your lights work. Working brake lights signal to drivers behind you that you’re slowing down or coming to a stop. If they aren’t working, the driver behind you could slam into you and cause a rear-end collision domino effect. Working blinkers signal intent to turn or switch lanes – also essential for safe driving.
- Stay focused. Avoid distractions such as texting or talking on your phone, adjusting the radio, or chatting with passengers. Distracted driving is the number one cause of rear-end collisions. These free smartphone apps can help you curb a texting and driving habit.
- Curb aggressive driving. Avoid speeding, slamming on the brakes, and other types of risky behavior.
- Focus on the road ahead. Keeping your eyes and attention on the road can help you spot and react to hazards such as backed-up traffic, construction zones, and even that chicken trying to cross the road.
- Be mindful of the weather. Snow, ice, and rain may decrease your ability to make a quick stop.
- Be aware of the cars around you. Check your rearview and side mirrors regularly. Being able to identify aggressive or distracted drivers makes it easier to anticipate their moves and stay safe.
- Remain calm. If another car unexpectedly zips in front of your vehicle, slow down and don’t engage in road rage.
- Don’t drive under the influence. Substances like alcohol, drugs, and certain medications can impair both your judgment and your ability to operate heavy machinery (like your two-ton sedan). Prioritize safety by lining up a designated driver, or using other alternatives like public transportation, taxis, or rideshare apps.
- Don’t drive sleepy. If you’re tired, delay your trip or pull off to the side of the road and get some rest. Driver fatigue makes it harder to pay attention and harder to drive defensively.
- Don’t tailgate. Keep plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you. (See below to learn about the three-second distance rule.)
What Is the Three-Second Rule?
The three-second rule is much more than a way to determine whether the french fry you dropped on the floor is safe to eat or not. In regards to driving, the three-second rule is a way to figure out how much distance you should keep between your car and the one in front of you. If there’s enough distance between you and the car in front of you, you should ideally be able to react to events on the road and avoid a rear-end collision.
The Idaho Transportation Department explains how it works:
- Choose a fixed object such as a sign or tree ahead of the car in front of you.
- As the car ahead of you passes the object, count off three seconds (one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three).
- If it takes at least three seconds before you pass the same fixed object, you’ve probably left enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you for a sudden stop.
- In bad weather (such as rain, ice, or snow), the three seconds should be increased several times to provide a safety cushion. You also might need to bump up the number of seconds if you’re behind a big-rig truck or an emergency vehicle.
How Does Avoiding a Rear-End Collision Affect Your Insurance?
A safe driving record can help prevent your insurance rates from going up and could even help you qualify for a safe driver discount. In other words, you can save lives and save money at the same time!