two people arguing after a rear-end accident

What Causes Rear-End Collisions?

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car crash, accounting for one-third of all accidents according to the NHTSA. But, why? Reaction times are a big reason. You need to give yourself enough time to react and avoid things that can weaken your reaction time.


A study by the University of Iowa conducted in the year 2000, found that the average reaction time to brake is about 2.3 seconds. If you are going highway speeds, that could easily be 200 or more feet before you can apply your brake. If you’re driving very aggressively and are only giving the car ahead a few feet, you have absolutely no way to react quickly enough to that car suddenly applying the brakes. Always try to stay about 3 seconds behind the car in front of you to give yourself adequate time to brake.


While driving, we constantly have to make speed adjustments based on the car in front of us in order to stay a safe distance away. This is especially important when the car ahead slows to a complete stop. Distractions hurt our ability to account for these changes. Common driving distractions include:

  • Texting

  • Loud music

  • “Zoning-out” or letting your mind wander

  • Adjusting your GPS

  • Handling your pets and children

  • Talking to passengers

If any of these common distractions are present when you are driving, you are putting yourself at a greater risk of an accident. Do what you can to limit your distractions, so you can limit your chance of a crash in the future.

Bad Weather

In bad weather, it’s even more important to be mindful of safe driving. Hydroplaning and sliding on ice generally do not excuse you from fault in a rear-end crash. This is because you are accepting the responsibility to drive safely whenever you get behind the wheel. Drive slower and give yourself even more time to brake than you normally would. If you are in heavy fog or snow, be prepared for a car to appear suddenly out of the fog. Always be cautious in these conditions.

The best way to avoid rear-end crashes is to be mindful and pay attention to the road at all times. Be especially cautious in unfavorable conditions and bad weather. Give yourself enough time to react to the cars ahead of you.

If you or a loved one is ever involved in a car crash, our lawyers at Whiting Hagg Hagg Dorsey & Hagg, LLP can help you receive the settlement you deserve. Give us a call at (605) 250-3003 or fill out an online contact form.

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