Why rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident (and how to protect yourself)

Being on the road means you are at the risk of getting involved in an accident. While this may sound scary, understanding how to keep safe on the road can significantly lower your chances of getting into an accident.

There are several types of accidents you can get involved in while on the road. But some types are far more prevalent than others. One such type is rear-ended collisions. 

This post explores why rear-end accidents are so prevalent and how to protect yourself with the help of a car accident lawyer while on the road.

Understanding rear-end collisions

Rear-end collisions occur when a vehicle rams into the rear of the car ahead. According to the NHTSA, rear-end crashes are among the most frequent types of car accidents and account for 29% of traffic crashes.

Understanding how and when rear-end car accidents occur is key to identifying why they are so prevalent. An NHTSA-sponsored study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute made some interesting findings on rear car accidents that can help explain their prevalence.

Here are some significant findings of the study:

  • Most rear-end car accidents happen when the leading vehicle slows down or comes to a complete stop, with 80 percent of the accidents occurring when the leading vehicle stopped moving. In most incidents, the rear car was following at an unsafe distance.
  • Most accidents happened on flat, level, and straight roads.
  • In almost 90 percent of the incidents, distracted driving was a factor limiting the rear vehicle’s driver reaction time.
  • Youthful male drivers aged between 25 and 34 were 1.9 times more likely to get involved in rear-end accidents than other groups.

The leading driver can also contribute to a rear-end collision

These findings point to distracted driving as the leading cause of rear-end accidents. While the following driver has the responsibility of keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front, there are circumstances where the leading driver can contribute to a rear-end car accident, for example:

  • The leading driver changes lanes dangerously
  • They are distracted and accelerates, and brakes erratically
  • They back up and ram into the following vehicle
  • They stop or park in an unsafe place

Preventing rear-end collisions

Preventing rear-end collisions calls for addressing the problems that contribute to the accidents. These include:

  • Avoiding all forms of distraction, like texting, using the phone, flipping radio channels, and getting lost in a conversation with other vehicle occupants
  • Maintaining a safe following distance at all times. Under normal circumstances, a safe following distance on a freeway should allow for a four to five seconds reaction time.
  • Checking rear view mirrors and your blind spots before changing lane
  • Ensuring that your vehicle’s brakes are in good working order 

Common injuries in rear-end collisions

Rear-end collisions often happen when cars are moving slowly, such as when approaching an intersection or during peak traffic hours. This means that the injuries and damages, under those circumstances, are minor. However, accidents that occur at high speeds can cause devastating injuries. Common rear-end collision injuries include:

Liability for rear-end accidents

Under normal circumstances, the driver that hits the leading car is liable for a rear-end accident. However, if the leading driver’s actions contributed to the accident, they will be responsible for the accident. 

Insurers recommend that their clients never accept liability at the scene of an accident. If you are hit on the rear, or you have hit another vehicle but feel that the other driver was at fault, a skilled car accident attorney can help you establish liability. Your car crash lawyer will be able to advise you on the steps that you need to take.

Photo by Jenny Ueberberg