New technology is putting a halt to rear-end collisions

By Goodwin Como, P.C.

One of the most common traffic accidents is getting a lot of attention from innovators who focus their efforts on developing vehicle safety features.

Modern technology is helping to reduce the number of rear-end collisions that happen every day in the U.S.

A little history

Some of us remember when the third brake light became a requirement on vehicles. Officially named the Center High Mounted Stop Lamp, this safety feature first appeared on 1986 models and was designed to reduce the number of rear-end collisions, or at least the severity of resulting injuries. A study undertaken by an insurance institute showed that there were 5 percent fewer rear-end crashes with 1986-model vehicles between 1986 and 1991 than there would have been but for the addition of the third brake light.

Misleading figures

Unfortunately, the trend did not continue. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 1988 and 2014, the number of fatalities resulting from rear-end accidents rose from 4.6 to 5.2 percent and so did injuries, rising from 24.9 to 28.7 percent of all crashes. However, such figures can be misleading. In an improving economy with lower gas prices, more vehicles will be on our roads and there will obviously be more accidents, especially in high-traffic situations and in areas that are unfamiliar to drivers.

Safety features

The safety features that all but the oldest vehicles offer are headrests, seat belts, and airbags. Headrests are especially important in rear-end collisions for their help in preventing serious head injuries. Seat belts keep occupants in their seats while airbags provide additional protection to driver and passengers by dissipating the energy created during impact.

Among the newest safety innovations are crash-avoidance systems that warn the driver of an impending collision. The automatic braking system is especially helpful in preventing a potential rear-end crash. Many new car buyers are looking for this feature and almost two dozen auto manufacturers have committed to making the ABS standard on all vehicles by 2022.

Next steps

Although people often walk away from rear-enders, it is also true that these so-called minor accidents can cause severe injuries, such as spinal problems and traumatic brain injury. Hopefully, innovators will continue to design safety features that will make serious injury in rear-end collisions a thing of the past.