Rear-end collisions occur every day in DuPage County. Some accidents are relatively minor and occur at slow speeds; other times, severe accidents occur as a result of a high speed, heavy impact collision. Regardless of the severity of the car accident, injuries often result. Common symptoms include pain in the head, neck, and back. Injuries may range from broken arms or legs, shoulder injuries, knee injuries, head injuries, whiplash and herniated or bulging discs.
In Illinois, the individual who rear-ends another driver is often found to be at fault in causing the accident, absent certain defenses. The rear-end driver or striking motorist who causes a rear end collision may have been following the car in front of him too closely or “tailgating.” There are exceptions to this general assumption, such as a sudden stop by the victim’s car, or in rare circumstances in which the striking motorist is confronted with a hazardous situation or sudden emergency.
Distracted driving is most often the primary cause of a rear end collision. The use of a cell phone causes distracted drivers to lose their focus more than any other factor. Cell phones are used frequently while driving, despite Illinois laws prohibiting use of cell phones (without hands free devices), and rear end collisions are now on the rise. The moment a person looks down at his phone, his eyes leave the road, and a collision is much more likely to occur.
Rear end accidents can be avoided by becoming a more cautious driver. By paying attention to what is happening around you, including the vehicles behind and how close they are to your vehicle, you may be able to anticipate danger. If you notice a tailgater behind you, even after you slow down, change lanes. Flashing or tapping your brake lights when you are preparing to stop will help signal the driver behind you that you are coming to a stop. Use your turn signal at all times to indicate turns and lane changes. Avoid driving continuously in another driver’s blind spot.
Conversely, if you are driving behind other vehicles, pay attention to traffic flow and vehicle speeds, brake early, increase following distance based on traffic and weather conditions, make sure you can see beyond the car directly in front of you (this helps you predict sudden stops) and be on the lookout for things that may cause other drivers to suddenly stop (wildlife, items falling from vehicles, other accidents, and stop lights or stop signs).
Danger signals to be aware of are: unexpected brake lights on the vehicle in front of you, distance diminishing between you and the vehicle in front of you, and problems/slow vehicles in adjacent lanes. Many drivers are not patient, and this may cause a driver to suddenly swerve into your lane. Be prepared for this so you don’t rear end another vehicle. By anticipating the actions of other drivers, you may prevent serious rear end collisions from occurring.