How to be prepared for a rear-end crash
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, July 20th 2018
What do you do if you know you are about to be hit from behind while stopped at an intersection?
Drivers are hit from behind more often than any other type of vehicle crash.
Avoiding this potential hit is difficult.
Dashing forward is not recommended unless there is a clear and unobstructed path straight ahead and on both sides.
Keeping a foot on the brake pedal when waiting for a gap or the traffic light to change will lessen the likelihood of an unaware driver causing a rear-end collision.
Many professionally trained drivers will put the fourway flashers on when they are first to stop at a red light, particularly at a highspeed highway intersection.
A hard brake is the best defence against being popped out into the intersection and becoming vulnerable to the deadly side-impact collision, which is arguably the most life-threatening type of crash.
Having the wheel turned left in anticipation of a left turn is not recommended.
If a driver doing this is hit from behind, the vehicle will lurch forward into the path of oncoming traffic.
Some advanced driving courses teach a hard-right turn action when anticipating a rearend collision, when stopped at an intersection.
This manoeuvre is meant to eliminate the full side impact of another vehicle traversing the intersection from the left.
The impact is felt more to the rear of the vehicle than to the sides.
This is not recommended when pedestrians are present.
The position of the headrest is of prime importance in reducing the whiplash injury sustained in this situation.
The position of the ears in the centre of the headrest is one of the first things a driving instructor will check when beginning a lesson.
Checking the rear-view mirror, when reducing speed or stopping, is something every driver should do every time.
Most drivers do not appreciate the square proportion nature of vehicle stopping distance.
Doubling the speed does not mean the braking distance will double.
The distance is 2×2=4 times as far to stop, not twice.
When a driver increases the speed by three times, it takes 3×3=9 times as far to stop, not three times, and so on.
It is the reason so many drivers misjudge the simple act of stopping in an emergency.
New drivers who do not take professional training are often unaware of this relationship of speed and braking distance.
Only about five per cent of senior drivers who attend presentations on keeping a driving privilege are aware of this speed and stopping relationship.
Driving with the tail lights on is a good idea.
It causes those following to believe they are closer than they really are.
What is the best way to avoid a head-on collision?
Lane choice is the best way to be predisposed to this type of crash avoidance.
On a multi-lane highway, it is best to choose a lane that affords the driver escape options.
Travelling in the left lane of a double-lane road puts a driver up against oncoming traffic.
The only escape is to the right. It is best to be in the right lane, with the possible escape in both the left and right directions, namely, the passing lane and the shoulder of the road.
Planning an escape route is important.
Where no escape route exists, such as on bridges, tunnels and narrow stretches, it is best to lower the speed.
Head-on crashes are extremely violent.
Vehicle manufacturers have made great improvements to occupant safety in recent years.
Airbags, seatbelts, absorbing bumpers, cab construction and reinforcement are a great safety benefit to the travelling public.