Rear end collisions are one of the more common types of auto losses. They account for 1/3 of all reported traffic accidents If you strike another vehicle from behind you are assumed to be at fault for the accident. That makes rear end collisions an attractive target for claims being filed against the at fault driver. You can avoid being placed in this difficult position by practicing a few simple defensive driving behaviors.
Do not drive distracted – If you are not concentrating on safe vehicle operation you can easily find yourself in trouble. Studies have shown that distracted driving reaction times are similar to drunk driving reaction times. If the phone call, text of other activity requires your attention, you need to do this when stopped. Distraction leads to longer reaction times that increase your chance for a rear end collision.
Speed Control – Some collisions are the result of your not being able to stop in time at a signal, intersection or for stopped traffic. Excess speed is often the root cause of this event. Excess speed will aggravate your liability for the rear end collision if you are at fault. Excess speed will aggravate property damage and personal injuries from the collision. If your speed is judged to be excessive, your potential liability is increased. Data recorders in vehicles and telematics programs can capture your speeds and this information can either help or hurt your case. You can count on it being requested during the investigation.
Following distance – Following distance is a primary way to protect you. Following distance provides you with time to react to changing conditions and enough space to change lanes or stop.
The best following distance is a minimum of three (3)) seconds between you and the vehicles in front of you. This is a distance that must be actively managed. Many time others will merge into your space cushion, so you will need to adjust the distance to regain the needed separation.
As road conditions become wet or slippery, expand this cushion to six (6) seconds. This compensates for increased braking distances and the additional hazards of poor road conditions. Use this greater distance for highway speed driving to allow adequate reaction time to traffic changes ahead of you.
To judge following distance, let the vehicle ahead of you pass a fixed object and you then count to see how many seconds behind you are. With time and experience you will be able to judge an adequate cushion of space without taking measurements.
Stopping short in traffic - When you stop behind another vehicle in traffic, leave enough space to see the rear tires of the vehicle ahead of you. This space allows you to move around a stalled vehicle or to see an impending rear end collision in your rear-view mirror and move up to avoid the impact. The extra space gives you options to use when needed.
Use care when merging – Entering traffic from being parked, merging onto a highway, or changing lanes can put you in the position of being struck from behind. In many cases you do not see the oncoming vehicle that was in your blind spot. Always double check your blind spots when merging can prevent you from being struck by another vehicle. Do not rely solely on your mirrors, turn your head and look for yourself.
Avoid drowsy driving – If you are tired or drowsy your reaction time will increase. Your powers of observation will be reduced, and you may not notice a hazard ahead. Get off the road and fresh yourself.
Use Technology – Newer vehicles have collision avoidance features that alert you to a hazard and can apply the brakes for you. Technology can also alert you to cross-traffic hazards. Some driver behavior measurements available in telematics applications can be helpful. Repeated instances of strong brake application can be an indicator that proper following distance is not being maintained. Telematics can also measure excessive speed behaviors. This data can be used for driver behavior improvement and some insurance companies will provide or subsidize this type of technology.
Maintain your vehicle - Lack of brake lights raises the chance of your being involved in an accident. Proper maintenance of the brake system is also needed to provide safe driving conditions for your vehicle. A poorly maintained vehicle is a hazard unto itself.
The Driehaus Difference
We can help you identify programs and services from your insurance company to help with driver monitoring or safe driving support. Some insurance companies offer driver monitoring as part of their rating process. We can help you navigate these resources for the best program for your needs. Call us at 513-977-6860 or reach out using our website, www.driehausins.com