How To Avoid Rear-End Car Accidents in West Virginia
Did you know that rear-end car wrecks account for nearly a third of all reported traffic collisions in the United States each year? As Safebraking.com reports, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently determined that roughly 28 percent of all crashes are rear-end collisions.
The NHTSA uses statistics like these to push for collision-avoidance systems becoming standard on all new automobiles. While some West Virginia drivers might doubt the power of collision-avoidance systems, a recent Consumer Reports article emphasized that automatic electronic braking (AEB) systems - a type of collision-avoidance technology - can reduce car crashes at a rate of 15 percent, while forward collision-warning systems can reduce the crash rate by about 7 percent.
These new technologies are not yet standard on most vehicles. As Consumer Reports states, most of these technologies are expensive add-ons to the price tags of new automobiles.
However, avoiding rear-end collisions goes beyond using technology to make up for human errors. It involves simply being more diligent and cutting down on the errors that lead to crashes.
Here are six tips to help drivers in Charleston and throughout West Virginia to avoid rear-end auto accidents. The tips are based on information from TrafficSchoolOnline.com and Wheels Magazine. We ask you to please seriously consider these tips and follow them.
Always check your mirrors.
While it might seem obvious to experienced drivers, it is extremely important to always look in your rearview and side-view mirrors on a regular basis when you are on the road. This is especially true when you are slowing down or coming to a stop. In fact, you should make it a habit to check these mirrors roughly every five to eight seconds whenever you are behind the wheel.
When you check your mirrors, it allows you to see if the driver behind you is following too closely. You might even be able to see if the driver is illegally using his or her phone to send text messages or read e-mails.
For instance, if you are coming to a stop at a red light or at a stop sign, check your mirrors as you begin to slow down because you might notice that the driver behind you is distracted. If you suspect that the driver to your rear is not paying attention or is engaging in other negligent driving behaviors, you might consider changing lanes or allowing the driver to pass you.
Look for an "escape" route.
As you slow down or come to a stop, look around you to see if there is a path for you to take so that you are not hit from behind by a distracted or aggressive driver. For instance, is there a shoulder, curb lane or sidewalk where you might be able to go in order to avoid an accident? Consider these paths while you are behind the wheel.
Always stay focused on the road.
As important as it is to keep an eye on the driver behind you, it is also highly crucial to keep your own eyes on the road. Just as you would not want the person behind you to be texting or composing an e-mail while driving, you should not engage in any distracted driving behaviors that would require you to take your eyes off the road.
Approach a red light or stop sign gradually.
If you begin braking gradually and slow down as you approach a stop, the driver behind you is more likely to slow down, too. In other words, do not come to a quick stop when you reach a red light or a stop sign. The driver behind you might be unable to stop quickly enough. This is especially true if he or she has been following closely.
Keep a safe following distance.
Just as you would not want a vehicle to drive too closely behind you, it is important to keep a safe following distance behind the vehicle in front of you.
Generally speaking, the National Safety Council (NSC) suggests that you follow the "three-second rule" when driving in typical daylight driving conditions. In other words, you want to be sure that you have three seconds of driving time behind the car in front of you.
How can you determine this? You can begin by looking for a fixed object in the distance such as a road sign or a house. Once the car in front of you has cleared that fixed object, you should begin counting. If you reach the fixed object before you have counted to three, then you likely are following too closely.
While the three-second rule is a good measure for typical driving conditions, you may want to extend your following time at night or when you are driving during inclement weather such as a rain or snow storm.
Check your brake lights.
In order for the driver behind you to know that you are braking and slowing down, the driver will need to see your brake lights. Drivers rely on those brake lights to avoid rear-end auto accidents.
When you are in a store or gas station parking lot, you can pull up toward the glass windows of the structure to check your brake lights. Simply get in the stopped vehicle, press your foot on the brake and look at the reflection in the window to see whether your brake lights are working.
You can also ask a friend or family member to stand behind your stopped vehicle while you press on the brake. If your brake lights do not light up, it is time to change the fuse or the bulb.
Contact a Charleston Rear-end Auto Accident Attorney
If you or someone you love has been injured in a rear-end auto accident, an experienced Charleston motor vehicle accident attorney can assist with your rear-end car accident case. To learn more about your rights and options, contact Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC. We can review your case and discuss the services we provide to injury victims throughout West Virginia.