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Rear-End Collisions Are More Serious Than Most People Think


A crossing guard was critically injured after a rear-end accident caused a vehicle to strike her and pin her down. The accident occurred on a Wednesday afternoon when vehicles were stopped at a red light, and the crossing guard was in the intersection. A vehicle collided with the one in front of it, which caused a chain reaction crash, leading to the crossing guard’s injuries. Witnesses helped lift the car off of the woman, who was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of two-car traffic accidents, and they’re often regarded as minor collisions. However, as illustrated above, a rear-end collision can have serious consequences.

According to Florida traffic statistics, in the most recent year for which statistics are available, following too closely, which is one of the most common reasons for a rear-end collision, caused more than 10,700 traffic accidents across the state. These accidents caused 14 fatalities, and more than 300 people suffered incapacitating injuries.

Nationally, nearly half of all traffic accidents are rear-end collisions, the National Transportation Safety Board notes, and the most common reason cited for these accidents is drivers failing to pay attention to the traffic ahead of them.

If you were rear-ended and have suffered injuries because of it, you should determine your eligibility to seek compensation. An experienced car accident attorney can help you understand all of your legal options and help sort out the best way forward given your specific circumstances.

About Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions occur when the front of one vehicle collides with the rear of another. As stated above, these accidents generally occur when the following car is tailgating (following too closely to) the lead car. If the lead car suddenly stops or slows, the driver of the following car is unable to stop quickly enough to avoid a collision. This is a form of failing to attend to the traffic ahead.

Other driver negligence that can contribute to rear-end accidents include:

  • Distracted driving: Distractions are a major factor in traffic accidents, and there are three types of distractions: (1) manual distractions, which cause an individual to take his or her hands from the wheel; (2) visual distractions, which cause an individual to take his or her eyes from the road; and (3) cognitive distractions, which cause an individual to take his or her focus away from the task of driving. Distractions may result in a driver being unable to see a hazard ahead or unable to respond adequately before the crash occurs. Some hazards may fit into all three categories.

  • Speeding: Speeding not only requires more space for a vehicle to come to a safe stop, but also offers less time for the driver to see and react to hazards on the roadway, such as a vehicle that suddenly slows or stops.

  • Alcohol-impaired driving: Alcohol impairment creates deficits in the skills that a driver needs to drive safely. One of the many deficits that it creates is an inability to brake effectively.

Other factors may lead to a rear-end collision that aren’t necessarily the result of driving error on the part of the driver of the following car, such as heavy traffic, poor weather conditions, or brake failure, which can render even an alert driver unable to avoid striking the vehicle in front of him or her. Additionally, contrary to popular belief, the driver of the following car isn’t always liable for a rear-end collision.

Here are some circumstances in which the lead car’s driver may be responsible:

  • The driver in the lead car reversed suddenly.
  • The driver in the lead car slowed and signaled to turn, but then failed to execute the turn.
  • The lead driver’s brake lights were not functioning properly.
  • The lead driver experienced a flat tire, but failed to pull over or use his or her hazard lights.

Rear-end crashes are often considered “fender-benders” and may even be referred to as “whiplash crashes” in reference to soft tissue neck injuries to the neck and back that are commonly experienced in this type of accident. However, these accidents can cause other types of injuries, as well, some of which may be quite severe, including:

  • Head injuries due to the driver’s head coming in contact with the steering wheel, windshield, or another car part.
  • Knee injuries due to the driver’s knees being forced into the lower area of the steering section or, if in the following car, due to parts of the car located beneath the hood being forced into the cabin area.
  • Internal bleeding from damage caused to the organs due to broken ribs or the force of the seat belt.
  • Spinal cord injuries due to the sudden jolt of the accident.

Avoiding a Rear-End Collision

While rear-end accidents are common, they are often avoidable. Use these tips to prevent becoming involved in a rear-end crash:

  • Don’t ever follow another car too closely. You should maintain a distance of at least two car lengths between your car and the one in front of you, if possible. Remember that the heavier your vehicle is, and the faster you’re traveling, the more space you need to come to a safe stop.
  • Avoid distractions. The texts can wait. You should wait to eat your food until at home or after you’ve stopped your car. Friends should respect the concentration that you need to place on the roadway.
  • Use care when merging onto the interstate to ensure that there is enough of a gap in traffic that you’re not causing the drivers of approaching vehicles to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting you.
  • Do not drive when alcohol-impaired or severely fatigued, as each of these can result in delayed response times, difficulty braking appropriately, and difficulty with paying attention to the tasks of driving.
  • Check your rear-view mirrors regularly. If someone is approaching you at a high rate of speed or following too closely, attempt to move to a different lane of travel, if possible.

Have more questions about how to recover compensation after a car accident? A car accident attorney can answer them and help you decide what to do next.

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