Home » Blog » The Season for Rear-End Crashes

The Season for Rear-End Crashes

Roughly 30% of the 6 million car crashes per year in the United States are rear-end collisions. This proportion is likely similar in Canada, although at this time of year probably even higher.  Darker, wet, and possibly icy November/December road conditions are optimal for rear-end crashes.
 
 Rear-end crashes are caused by a combination of driver errors: excessive speed for the road conditions, careless inattention, and following too closely.  Skill and driving reflexes also come into play: braking has not happened quickly enough.
 
Roughly 30% of the 6 million car crashes per year in the United States are rear-end collisions. This proportion is likely similar in Canada, although at this time of year probably even higher.  Darker, wet, and possibly icy November/December road conditions are optimal for rear-end crashes.
 
 Rear-end crashes are caused by a combination of driver errors: excessive speed for the road conditions, careless inattention, and following too closely.  Skill and driving reflexes also come into play: braking has not happened quickly enough.
 
But error and lack of skill are not the only factors.  Human factors studies have also shown that drivers generally are not able to detect when the car in front of them is going slower than they are, unless the difference in speed is at least eight to ten miles an hour.  And as Gregory Corso, a psychology professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta says, “if people can’t detect that the car in front of them is going slower, [they’re] going to run into it.”
 
Drivers need to know about this perceptual limitation and take care to compensate for it by not making the driving errors noted above: i.e. following too closely and at too high a speed.  Car manufacturers have developed collision-warning systems, which they continue to refine in the hope of creating systems that will go so far as to adjust to the car owner’s driving style.  As more vehicles with these systems come into the traffic mix, it will be interesting to see whether they actually work to reduce rear-end crash statistics.
 
Rear-end collisions delay traffic, take up lots of emergency services’ time and resources, cause expensive property damage—far beyond what might be expected—and, worst of all, cause pain and suffering to the injured, who often require extensive and expensive treatments for neck and back injuries.  A recent report of The US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that rear end collisions “account for 2 million insurance claims each year, costing at least $8.5 billion.”
 
The route you travel may also be a factor.  Each year ICBC statistics identify BC’s “top-10 motor vehicle crash sites.”  This year—consistent with previous years—all of the top 10 sites are in Metro Vancouver.  Five of them are the on and off ramps at Highway 1 intersections: Grandview, Gaglardi, Brunette, 152nd Street, and 176th Street; three of them are bridges: Knight, Alex Faser, and the Lions Gate; and the remaining two are arterial intersections: Knight and SE Marine, and 88th Avenue and the King George Highway.  ICBC spokesman Mark Jan Vrem summed up these sites as “choke points [bridges], or convergence points [intersections, interchanges]” which combined with high traffic volumes lead to more crashes.”
 
As noted in previous Road Rules about rear-end crashes, that the car in front stopped suddenly and unexpectedly is rarely if ever a defence for the driver of the striking vehicle.  Following too closely, and driving without due care, are the principles applied in condemning the driver of the striking vehicle.
 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.