My daily commute to our office on Warm Springs requires that I drive on a stretch of US95 currently undergoing an extensive lane widening project. Like all such road construction projects, this one seems like it is taking far too long to complete. Traffic was already heavy on this stretch of highway and now, with one less travel lane due to the construction, it has become a complete nightmare. Whenever too many cars meet on too few lanes the end result is usually car accidents.
Just this morning I witnessed three auto accidents on a stretch less than a 4-miles, two of which involved three or more vehicles. All of the accidents had one thing in common – an inattentive driver had rear-ended the vehicle in front of them. According to the NHTSA, there are over six million automobile accidents in the Unites States each year. 2.5 million of these – about 40% – are rear-end collisions, making it the single most common type of automobile accident and, sadly, one of the easiest to prevent.
By staying alerted and anticipating problems, motorists can avoid hitting others and even help keep others from hitting them.
To avoid being hit, consider doing the following:
- Know what’s going on behind you. Adjust your outside and inside mirrors before moving your vehicle, and use them frequently. Keep your rear window clean.
- Flash your brake lights. Tap your brakes when you are standing, moving slowly or preparing to stop. Check your brakes often to make sure they’re working, and keep your brake lights clear of dirt and snow.
- Signal well before you turn and change lanes.
- Keep pace with traffic when speed limits and road and weather conditions permit.
- Get rid of tailgaters. Slow down gradually by removing your foot from the accelerator. If the tailgater doesn’t move, change lanes safely. Use extra caution when slowing down or changing lanes, and don’t let the tailgater distract you.
- Don’t stay in another driver’s blind spot. If that vehicle suddenly swerves into your lane, you may have to brake hard, exposing you to a possible rear-end collision.
- Raise the hood if your vehicle stalls and you can’t move from a traffic lane. Do everything possible to help others see your vehicle. Use emergency flashers and, if available, flares and reflective markers. Stand away from traffic while you wait for help.
There also are things you can do to keep from hitting others from behind. Consider these tips:
- Braking early.
- Paying strict attention to traffic flow. At 40 mph, a vehicle travels 60 feet in one second, meaning even short distractions can make a difference.
- Using good vision habits. Don’t follow so closely that you can’t see ahead. When you can, look through their windows to see the road ahead, and look over the top of your car when you’re on a hill.
- Looking for things that could cause the driver ahead of you to stop. Their problems become your problems a second or two later.
- Staying aware of your ability to swerve to the right on icy roads. Even though ice may make it impossible to stop in time, you often can swerve to the right to avoid a vehicle in front of you. Never swerve to the left, where you’re inviting a head-on collision.
- Increasing your following distance to accommodate road and weather conditions.
- Staying alert for dangerous signals:
Brake lights on the vehicle ahead of you. As soon as you see them, get your foot off the gas pedal and be ready to brake.
A diminishing distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you, which may be slowing down or stopped.
Problems in adjacent lanes. Watch for brake lights and slowing traffic in lanes next to yours, and expect other drivers to swerve quickly into your lane.
- Avoid distraction while driving such as eating, cell phone use and fiddling with the radio.
We hope you find these tips helpful and encourage everyone to drive safely! Of course, should you find yourself involved in an automobile accident, know that we are here to help you 24/7. You can find information on filing a claim our Claims Page or call us at 702-638-0022.