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December 26, 2019

Preventing rear-end crashes

Kenny Ray, Risk Consultant

Studies conducted by two Federal agencies reveal sobering facts about rear-end collisions. In 2015, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that almost half of all two-vehicle collisions were rear-end crashes which resulted in the deaths of more than 1700 people each year¹. Many of the crashes analyzed by the NTSB involved one or more commercial motor vehicles (CMV). In 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered that 87 percent of rear-end crashes involved a driver failing to properly respond to the traffic conditions ahead¹.

Prevention of rear-end crashes depends on drivers making sound, well-planned decisions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recommends that professional truck drivers faithfully practice the following safe driving principles:

  • Maintain a safe following distance since large trucks take much longer to stop than passenger cars.  One of the most common crash types is when a CMV strikes the vehicle in front of them²
  • Double the following distance in adverse conditions including inclement weather, poor road conditions, low visibility and heavy traffic²
  • Avoid distractions outside of the vehicle including billboards, buildings and people³
  • Do not text or use a handheld electronic device while driving including cell phones, tablets or dispatch devices³
  • Do not read or write while driving including using paper maps³
  • Do not eat or drink while driving³

In addition to observing safe-driving practices, both the NTSB and the NHTSA strongly advocate for the use of available technologies which have proven to be very effective at eliminating or mitigating rear-end crashes. Specific technologies include collision warning systems and autonomous emergency braking. The NTSB further recommends that CMV fleet owners transition to fleet vehicles equipped with such technologies¹.