Car accidents are often unexpected. No set formula is in place on what to do, or not do, to prevent other drivers from colliding with your car, even if your own driving is impeccable. Although an accident can happen from virtually any angle or location based on context, several classes of car accidents are defined to help describe some of the most common types of accidents that occur every day.
Rear-end collisions involve two cars that are driving in succession. Two instances would generally cause these collisions – the front car unexpectedly decelerates, or the back car unexpectedly accelerates. In most cases, rear-end collisions occur when the front car quickly pushes the brakes on their car. Rear-end collisions are the most common of all car accident types, accounting for 29% of total car crashes in the country. It is impossible to know what’s going on in the mind of the other driver – no one can truly know what the car in front of them is going to do. However, any driver can reduce the probability of this type of collision happening by keeping a reasonable space cushion between cars, even in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Side-impact collisions, or T-bone collisions, involve one car driving directly into the side of another car. This happens in the middle of intersections when a driver chooses to run a red light, or neglects to stop at a stop sign. Side-impact collisions account for 27% of all car accidents nationally. This is alarming because, unlike front or rear-end collisions, side-impact collisions hit the least padded location on a car. The doors of a car do provide some protection to the driver and their passengers, but not enough to prevent serious injury. This accident type is one of the most dangerous, but you can avoid it by checking for oncoming traffic, even if you have the right of way.
Front-impact collisions, or head-on collisions, do not always involve other cars. They are characterized by the driver crashing into any object – barriers, lampposts, trees – head-on. This is notoriously the most dangerous type of single-car crash because they often happen at high speeds. Moreover, any form of inclement weather, like fog, rain, or snow, increases the probability of these accidents occuring simply because they reduce visibility. This makes using front headlights extremely important while driving in low-visibility settings, as well as maintaining a reasonable speed no matter the context.
Merging collisions involve two cars – one that is in a static lane while the other is in a merging lane. Merging collisions are not high-impact in nature and generally involve one car sideswiping the other during the merging process. Avoid this type of collision by checking all blind spots and keeping a reasonable speed to allow both cars to merge properly.
Multi-vehicle collisions, or pile-ups, involve at least three cars. Multi-vehicle collisions commonly occur in busy roadways and long stretches of road, with fast speeds, like freeways. Any of the previously mentioned accident-types can characterize a multi-vehicle collision, and because of the number of cars involved, passengers often find it difficult to escape. Multi-vehicle collisions make up nearly half of all car accidents and are most dangerous because of sheer volume – passengers could be hit from any angle. Preventing this type of collision is difficult because you can’t know what other drivers are truly thinking. The best thing to do is remain alert and keep your own driving habits safe.
Car accidents are most commonly caused by some form of distracted driving, but driver error is not always the sole cause. Driving in inclement weather and low visibility (at night) increase the incidence of accidents significantly. Remaining aware of your surroundings and maintaining safe driving habits are ultimately the best ways to reduce your chances of being involved in a car accident.