Drive Safe: Rear End Collision Avoidance Tip #1

Leave Space between vehicles


The mission of the Vision Zero Automotive Network has always been to reduce accidents and save lives through the use of collision-avoiding technologies. A recent and unfortunate incident close to our hearts has highlighted the need to provide drivers with advanced training to use those and other technologies to drive more safely. This information could be simple tips on when and how to use your rearview mirrors and techniques on where to look while driving. By helping you become a better driver, we will save even more lives. To kick off our Drive Safe series of articles, we’re offering tips for avoiding rear-end collisions. These are the most common types of vehicle accidents and often result in significant injuries. Most rear-end collisions happen at intersections. Our first tip is always to leave yourself an escape route.

Planning an Escape to Prevent a Rear-End Collision

When stopping at a red light or stop sign, leave an extra car length of space in front of your vehicle if you aren’t first in line. Once stopped, look to the sides and in front of your vehicle to evaluate possible escape routes. Is there a driveway that you can use? Are there cars stopped or parked beside yours? If you’re first in the line, could you enter the intersection and pull up in front of a vehicle beside you? It’s crucial to know your options if you have to move out of the way quickly because a vehicle approaching from behind won’t be able to stop in time.

Always Know What’s Going On Behind Your Vehicle

Monitor the side- and rearview mirrors once you’ve evaluated possible escape routes. You should be able to tell if an approaching vehicle in your or an adjacent lane isn’t slowing down. Be prepared to use your escape route if you might be hit from behind. If a car in an adjacent lane isn’t stopping, can you get out of the way to provide that oncoming driver a path to safety? Continue to monitor what’s happening behind your vehicle until at least two or three cars have stopped behind you.

Intersection Escape Route Example
An example of a busy intersection. The yellow and green cars should be planning an escape route.

In the image above, the red, dark blue, silver, green and yellow cars have stopped at a red light. The driver of the yellow vehicle should know that he can pull off to the left-most lane if the light blue car behind him won’t stop in time. The green vehicle could pull onto the grass or in front of the yellow car. The silver vehicle could pull into the intersection in front of the blue car.

The drivers of all five stopped cars should look in their rearview mirrors to determine whether a vehicle approaching from behind will stop in time. The drivers of the silver, blue and red cars should also watch for pedestrians or cyclists approaching from the sides that may affect their planned escape route.

Be a Courteous and Safe Driver

After two or three cars have stopped behind your vehicle, you can pull up closer to the car or truck in front of you. A good guideline for a safe stopping distance from another car can be judged based on seeing the bottom of their rear tires over the front of your hood. If you drive a large pickup truck or SUV, you’ll likely have to move up a bit closer than this. Either way, you want space between your vehicle and the one in front. If the worst happens and you get rear-ended, leaving space should prevent your car from hitting the one in front of you.

Stopping Distance Using Rear Tires
The driver of the blue car should be able to see the bottom of the silver truck’s rear tires.

Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings

If there are any issues with your rearview mirror, or you have a delivery or cargo van and need a rear vision camera system, drop by one of the amazing specialty mobile enhancement retailers listed on the Vision Zero Dealer Locator. They’d be happy to assist.

Driving may be a daily routine, but it’s also a responsibility that demands our full attention. Rear-end collisions, unfortunately, remain one of the most common and avoidable types of accidents on the road. These incidents can often be prevented with simple yet effective techniques like those outlined above.

Vehicle Vector Images by macrovector on Freepik
Overhead View Car Images by Freepik