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How to Avoid Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of accidents on the road. These simple precautions will help you avoid them.


  • Step 1: Maintain your vehicle Check your brakes, tires, and suspension each year. Besides working brakes, your car needs good tire traction and a tight suspension to stop properly.
  • Step 2: Look ahead Look ahead to anticipate traffic slowdowns and stops. Watch for brake lights, and look beyond the cars directly in front of you.
  • Step 3: Look behind Keep an eye on traffic behind you, too. Lose tailgaters by changing lanes or slowly decelerating until they pass.
  • TIP: Before you begin driving, adjust your rearview mirrors for a clear view.
  • Step 4: Keep pace Keep pace with traffic. Avoid driving much slower or faster than the other cars on the road.
  • Step 5: Follow the two-second rule Leave enough room ahead for a sudden stop. Notice when the car in front passes a fixed object, such as a road sign. If you reach the same point before you can count to two slowly, you are following too closely.
  • TIP: Stopping distance includes reaction time plus braking time. At 60 miles per hour, you will travel 60 feet before you even hit the brake, and will need another 180 feet to stop.
  • Step 6: Signal and brake early Give the drivers behind you plenty of notice before you turn, change lanes, or slow down. When traffic ahead slows, tap your brakes to alert the cars behind. Then brake gently and smoothly. Don't slam on the brakes.
  • Step 7: Look for escape routes Look for escape routes as you drive. Know where you could go if you had to swerve to avoid a collision.
  • TIP: The best way to avoid an accident is to pay attention to the road! Don't talk on your cell phone, put on makeup, eat or drink, or fiddle with the radio as you drive.
  • Step 8: Stay out of blind spots Stay out of other drivers' blind spots. If a car cuts you off changing lanes because the driver doesn't see you, you may have to slam on your brakes to avoid it.
  • FACT: Did you know? Studies have shown that talking on a cell phone while driving slows driver reaction times by 18 percent.

You Will Need

  • A well-maintained vehicle
  • An observant eye

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