If you have been driving for any time at all, there is a good chance you have watched another vehicle quickly approach yours in your rearview mirror. While a minor rear-end collision may be inconvenient, many of these types of accidents cause serious bodily injury and extensive property damage.
Citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Information Institute reports that 2,350 fatal rear-end collisions occurred in the United States in 2016. Alarmingly, rear-end crashes accounted for more than 6% of all traffic fatalities that year.
Why are rear-end collisions so serious?
The element of surprise
Your car, truck or SUV has at least three mirrors to help you see what is happening behind your vehicle. Still, you likely have a better view out of your windshield and side windows. As such, when you approach a dangerous situation from the front, you may have the option of making evasive maneuvers.
You may also be able to brace yourself for impact. The same is not necessarily true for rear-end collisions. On the contrary, you may find yourself in the middle of one without knowing it was about to occur.
Adult heads usually weigh around 10 or 11 pounds. To support this weight, your neck has both bone and soft tissue. During a rear-end collision, your body and neck may move forward while your head moves backward. This motion can cause severe damage to nerves, muscles and other soft tissue.
Even worse, while whiplash may cause long-term health consequences, its symptoms may not show up immediately. Accordingly, you may think you have escaped the rear-end collision unscathed only to discover you need extensive rehabilitation to return to normal.
While you may trust your driving skills implicitly, you have little control over other motorists. If another car hits the back of your vehicle, you may sustain a serious injury. By understanding why rear-end collisions are often severe, you can better plan for recovering from one.