Who Is At Fault in a Rear-end Collision?

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of motor vehicle accident in the United States. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions account for 32.5%–almost a third–of all motor vehicle accidents.

Most rear-end collisions are caused by distracted drivers. 87% of rear-end collisions where a driver hits the vehicle ahead of them are caused by distracted drivers. In nearly half (47%) of these accidents, at-fault drivers make no attempt to avoid the crash, which suggests that they are too distracted to notice an impending collision.

The leading causes of driver distraction include:

  • Using a wireless device – Your phone calls and text messages can wait until you safely arrive at your destination.
  • Other passengers – Having other people in the car can be very distracting, especially for young drivers. According to the NHTSA: “Teen drivers were two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in one or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with one teenage peer, compared to when driving alone.”
  • Internal distractions – Looking for something you just dropped, fishing around in the glove box, or reaching for something in the back seat can wait until you’ve arrived at your destination. If you truly need to retrieve or look for something in your car, pull over somewhere safe first.
  • Engaging with the dashboard – Adjusting the controls or playing with that fancy new touchscreen can absolutely take your eyes off the road.
  • Eating and drinking.
  • Attending to personal hygiene – If you rear-end somebody while you shave or put on makeup, you risk causing serious injury or disfigurement to yourself.
  • Aggressive driving also leads to rear-end collisions.

Lead drivers can also cause rear-end collisions. Although less common, rear-end collisions can also occur because of the lead driver’s negligence.

Here are some examples:

  • Improper lane change – Cutting off other drivers can lead to rear-end collisions. When the lead driver makes a sudden merge or an unsafe lane change, it does not give other drivers in that lane enough time to brake.
  • Unnecessary braking – There are very good reasons for suddenly braking the car. Animals, people, or hazards in the road need to be avoided. But if the only reason you want to hit the brakes is to get back at the jerk who is tailgating you, that’s a problem.
  • Placing the lead car in reverse while in traffic – Drivers sometimes decide to place their vehicle in reverse. For example, a driver may be at a stop light and decides to change directions without looking in the rearview mirror. This is a moving violation that you should avoid.
  • Malfunctioning brake lights/turn signal lights – The entire purpose of placing lights on the back of a vehicle is to alert the drivers behind you of your intentions. Malfunctioning or broken lights mean that other drivers may not realize that you have stopped or slowed down until it is too late. This problem is especially dangerous at night.

Ideally, you will never need to contact a personal injury attorney. However, if you do find yourself injured by a rear-end collision (or any other type of accident) call Brown & Crouppen Law Firm to request a free case evaluation.

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