You look into your rearview mirror and see the vehicle behind you barreling toward you. Surely the driver will stop in time. Right? You may not be a good judge of speed, but it appears to you that the vehicle isn't slowing down.
You tap your brake lights in an attempt to alert the driver behind you that you are either slowing or stopped, but it doesn't seem to be working. You may have time to come to the realization that you have nowhere to go and that the vehicle behind you isn't going to stop. All you can do is brace for impact and hope for the best.
Does this sound familiar?
If the above scenario sounds familiar to you, it's probably because approximately 30 percent of all of the accidents that happen each year across the country, including many here in West Virginia, are rear-end collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You would think that since these accidents are so common that they can't be prevented. The fact is that most of them are preventable.
If drivers, both the one in front and the one behind, take the following steps, that percentage might go down:
- Don't get distracted. Distracted driving has become a serious problem on the roads, and it costs numerous lives every year.
- Don't get too close to the vehicle in front of you.
- Do make sure that your brake lights work.
- Do apply your brakes slowly. Slowing down before stopping could give the vehicle behind you time to stop.
- Don't forget to check your mirrors — a lot.
- Do pay attention to the traffic around you.
- Do make sure you keep your view as clear as possible.
Taking these steps could keep you and those you love safe. However, you can't account for the actions of other drivers. They may not follow these simple rules and, thus, put your life at risk. Many people fail to understand the fact that serious injuries can result from these crashes. People suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and, yes, whiplash, which can result in lifelong issues.
Depending on the circumstances, you could end up with permanent injuries, but even if you recover it could take some time, during which you may be unable to work and amass large medical bills. If this happens to you, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for your injuries and the financial losses associated with them.