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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Following Distance and Lane Choice Affect Rear End Collisions

Facts of Vehicles Being Struck From Behind Explained

Recently, Risk InfoCenter™ analysts at DriveCam Inc., a global Driver Risk Management company, evaluated incidences of rear end crashes. They wanted to determine how following distance impacts the likelihood of collision. The analysts identified several that steps drivers can take to minimize their risk of being involved in rear end crashes.

With over seven million events, Risk InfoCenter by DriveCam is the largest knowledgebase in the world to provide insight into risky driving based on actual driving behavior.

According to Risk Management News, rear end crashes are the second most common claim for most fleet operators, regardless of industry, comprising 17 percent of all claims and cost over $13,000 per claim. Although recommended following distances can vary by weight and size of vehicle, virtually all nationally recognized driver training and education programs advise a minimum following distance of three or four seconds. DriveCam separated the incidents it reviewed into two categories – those where a subject vehicle's following distance was less than two seconds and those where following distance was two seconds or more.

Del Lisk, DriveCam vice president, safety services, said, "There is no greater risk of being struck from the rear when the subject vehicle is maintaining less than two seconds than having greater than two seconds following distance." Yet when it comes to the subject vehicle rear-ending the vehicle ahead, it's another story altogether. "Incidents involving the subject rear ending the lead vehicle where the subject vehicle had less than two seconds of following distance was almost three times as common as those where the driver was maintaining a distance of two seconds or greater," Lisk said.

The study also indicated that a great number of rear end crashes involve the lead vehicle changing speeds, or an interruption to the flow of traffic in the lane. The fact is more rear end crashes happen in the furthermost right lane than other lanes when on city streets. The right lane's traffic flow is constantly disturbed by pedestrians, parked cars and turning vehicles. The left lane was next most frequent, as this lane can be affected by traffic slowing or stopping to make a left turn. The center lane had the least incidents of rear end crashes. "This is partially due to the fact that more of the roads had only one or two lanes of same direction traffic," explained Lisk. "However, it may also be due to the fact that the center lane has fewer traffic flow disturbances."

Here are some strategies for avoiding rear end crashes:
• Avoid the far right and left lanes whenever possible, except when preparing to turn; drive in the center lane as much as possible.
• Always maintain the proper following distance appropriate for the weight and size of the vehicle being driven.
• Maintain a steady speed to reduce sudden stops and starts; this will also increase with fuel efficiency.

Along with motor vehicle safety, driver education helps ensure the safety of Americans. Whether you're getting your Commercial Drivers License, your Learner's Permit, or your Motorcycle License, America's Driver's License Headquarters is

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