Rear-end collisions, the most common type of car accident, involve one driver crashing into the back of another’s vehicle. Rear-end collisions happen for a variety of reasons: the driver may be following the car in front of them too closely, not paying attention when turning or changing lanes, speeding, driving too fast for the weather, etc. In stop-and-go traffic, often seen in large cities and on freeways, rear-end collisions are especially common and may involve more than two cars: the driver who rear-ends the car in front of him may also be rear-ended by the car behind him, causing a serious pileup.
The frequency of rear-end collisions is a major concern for automotive safety experts and researchers. Rear-end collisions are not only a very common type of crash—accounting for 29.7% of all accidents in 2000—they are also responsible for a high number of injuries and property damage. Rear-end collisions accounted for 30% of all injuries and 29.7% of all property damage in the same year.1
When one car collides with the back of another car, a number of injuries can occur, from very mild to extremely serious. The jarring, forward and backward movement of a rear-end collision can cause whiplash, spine injuries, concussions, head and neck injuries, broken bones, and more. Whiplash, one of the most common injuries seen in these types of collisions, can involve muscle strain, the tearing of soft tissue, nerve damage, ligament ruptures, and vertebrae fractures. These injuries are not just caused in high-speed collisions: even relatively moderate rear-end collisions at low speeds can cause extensive injury if the head and neck extend beyond normal range of motion. A number of factors influence the severity of injuries sustained in a rear-end crash. If the vehicle causing the crash is the heavier vehicle in the accident, for example, the driver of the lighter vehicle is more likely to be injured.2 If the driver is not wearing their seat belt, they are also more likely to be injured. Even mild injuries can result in long-term symptoms, like pain, headaches, and dizziness, if nerve damage is involved, giving these types of injuries the potential to gravely impact someone’s life.
Because of the possible severity of rear-end collisions, drivers should make sure to maintain a safe following distance between their own car and the car in front of them and avoid braking suddenly unless absolutely necessary. Drivers should also pay close attention to traffic patterns and avoid distractions. Many vehicle models now offer advanced crash warning systems and automated braking to help prevent rear-end collisions.3
To help you and your family stay safe, download our detailed guide on what to do if you are in a car accident.
And if you or a loved one are involved in a rear-end car accident, know that the Huntsville, AL car accident attorneys at Martinson & Beason, P.C. are here to help. We offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, so there is no risk to call. We serve clients throughout the state of Alabama.