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4 Common Collisions And How To Avoid Them

Fender benders happen. And, it turns out, many of them happen the same way.

While it’s always essential to take precautions behind the wheel, being extra aware of these common collisions could help you avoid them in the first place.

So here’s a breakdown of four of the most common types of collisions, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), with driving tips to help you steer clear of trouble while out on the road.

Front-Impact Collisions

front-impact collisionWhat They Are

Front-impact collisions—when the front end of a vehicle hits another vehicle or something on the side of the road, like a tree or telephone pole—accounted for 57 percent of serious crashes in 2019, according to the IIHS.

How To Avoid Them

Front-impact crashes are often caused by slippery roads or other weather-related factors, so it’s important to adjust your driving to fit the conditions, says Russ Rader, IIHS’s senior vice president of communications. Translation: Drive slower in rain and snow, to give yourself more time to react if your car suddenly loses control. And avoid anything that could divert your attention from the road. “Stay off the cell phone, of course, but fiddling with the radio or even talking to a passenger can be a distraction,” says Rader. “Remain focused on the task at hand.” (See more surprising causes of distracted driving.)

Lane-keeping systems also help reduce the frequency of front-impact collisions, according to the IIHS. This feature alerts the driver or even automatically steers a car if it ventures outside of its lane.

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Side-Impact Collisions

side-impact collisionWhat They Are

Side-impact collisions can be either a classic “T-bone” or a sideswipe. The former often occurs at intersections, usually as the result of some sort of confusion regarding which vehicle has the right of way. Sideswipes usually involve a side impact between cars driving parallel to one another in different lanes. According to the IIHS, 23 percent of serious crashes in 2019 were side-impact ones.

How To Avoid Them

Time-tested defensive-driving techniques can go a long way toward reducing your risk. To guard against the classic “T-bone,” be extra vigilant, and always look both ways at stop signs and stoplights—don’t speed to try to catch the yellow light. “When you’re late, you’re more likely to push it and run a red light,” says Rader. To help avoid a sideswipe, always check your blind spot before changing lanes and, when passing cars, be alert for other drivers changing lanes unexpectedly.

Rear-End Collisions

rear-end collisionWhat They Are

Motorists are prone to rear-end collisions in heavy commuter traffic on highways and thoroughfares. The most common causes are driving too fast or too aggressively, or failing to leave sufficient space between you and the vehicle in front of you, according to Rader.

How To Avoid Them

Watch your speed and give yourself plenty of distance, in case the driver ahead suddenly slams on the brakes. To avoid being rear-ended by tailgaters, slow down, move to the right lane if it’s safe to do so, and calmly let them pass. Today’s automatic braking technology can also help keep you safe. Forward-collision warning systems—which provide audible tones or visual alerts to help the driver swerve or brake before a collision occurs—can reduce rear-impact crashes.

Parking Lot Collisions

parking lot collisionWhat They Are

Dented bumpers are all too common in busy parking lots. They may happen when a car is backing out of a parking spot or where there are multiple cars moving in different directions.

How To Avoid Them

“In parking lots, it can be really difficult to see around you—especially when backing up,” says Rader. His advice: Take a moment to check out your surroundings before getting in the car to pull out of a parking space. If you can, park in a spot farther away from other cars. And if your vehicle has a rearview camera, that’s great—but don’t rely on technology alone to keep your ride scratch-free. “The image on the screen can be distorted by bright sunlight or shadows,” says Rader. “Always use your mirrors as well.”

If you’re ever in an accident (and we hope you never will be), you can have peace of mind knowing your GEICO auto insurance makes the claim process as smooth and painless as possible. You can report and track your claim online, over the phone or via the GEICO Mobile app—whichever is easiest for you. Plus, find out how GEICO’s convenient Auto Repair Xpress® program makes the process as simple as 1, 2, 3!

Read More: Lane-keeping and automatic braking aren’t the only safety innovations. Check out these 5 hi-tech safety features that could soon be standard.

By Rod O’Connor

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    Leave a comment

  1. Jan Peterson says,

    A blindspot accident is just what it implies. A few years ago I had just such an experience. As I was parking at a friend’s zero lot line home, I had to pull into her driveway and park perpendicular to her two cars already present. So I was parallel to the road and perpendicular to her cars and now all three cars were in the driveway. As I was executing this maneuver, I felt a tap, so I stopped, looked in my rearview and both side mirrors. Nothing was visible anywhere……………The ratio of the car’s windows to the body was such that nothing could be seen. If I had been taller from waist to head top (I’m 5’7″ and long-waisted), I might have seen the object————–but then my head would be in serious contact with the headliner. The car is a Cadillac SRX—————a great-looking car with serious blindspot problems.

    It was dark, I went inside, had dinner, went home and the next day I was shocked to see major scraping on my rear passenger quarter panel. I had made contact with a mailbox on a wood post that was not next to the street, but on a skinny piece of land between the two houses and located in the swale, so oddly placed that even a mail delivery vehicle could not have its driver reach out to operate the mailbox access flap.

    Eventually I couldn’t stand looking at the damage anymore and had the body work done————–on my own dime.

    Design engineering is an issue here. Looks sacrificed efficiency.

    Please insurance industry, start reporting on cars that produce their own accident-prone characteristics.

  2. larry guttenberg says,


  3. Malcolm Cannon says,

    I wish it were possible for you to provide these tips to the hit and run driver who destroyed my car and caused my neck injury on Dec. 21, 2017 on Interstate Route 95. Maybe it would help that driver to avoid another accident. I certainly don’t want to be another one of his victims!

  4. christopher Reuland says,

    If I had a dollar for every person I see on the phone I would be rich. PUT THE PHONE DOWN AND DRIVE .

  5. Gary Worthley says,

    Thanks for the helpful tips. It is good to review these safety tips which we all have learned but need refreshing.

  6. Arnold Washington says,

    Why did you send this to me. I’ve been a driver in the human services field for 35 years. From new York city to Charleston SC. The driving habits and what constitutes as distracted or aggressive driving varies from state to state. The focus should be on proper lane changes and what they do in Jersey called break check where they hit their brakes for no apparent reason. By NOT investigating crash scenes properly only perpetuates thsee incidents.

  7. Teri Lee says,

    Very much appreciated tips. My husband was involved jn a “t-bone” type accident during our last years hurricane season, trying to get to a couple homes to cover windows for friends. Very, very distracted, too much to do, not enough time.

  8. Andreiw Gibson says,

    Front wheel driving cars at speed will dart to the right or left with the slightest movement of the steering wheel so quickly because the frontdriving tires are aggressively grabing and pulling the car forward.

  9. Innocent says,

    A few thoughts:

    Stay calm, don’t join the madness; don’t desire parity, that’s just twice the madness.

    Think of the other drivers as children directing a ton of steel at high velocity.

    More accidents are due to cell phone distraction than drunk driving. We’d be safer seeing someone drinking whiskey than with a cell phone. Cars could be required to have cell phone jamming but…..

    I offer taxi drivers a tip if they don’t use their cell phones while driving.

    Stay in the “traffic formation”: try to maintain your safe stopping distance, but don’t tempt people to run stop signs or leap into traffic by offering what looks like an opening in the traffic. If you have to suddenly brake when someone enters traffic, you’ve just performed an emergency response; that’s your fault, not the other driver. I understand this is a difficult concept. In slippery conditions, all you can do is to slow down in the extreme and leave like a half block for the entering traffic; even then, be especially cautious. Don’t expect other drivers to understand the stopping distance.

    Watch cross streets for “fast approaches, rolling stops” to the intersections and be especially cautious near shopping parking lot entrances, colleges, etc. i.e. don’t expect people to stop.

    Watch for taillights on cars parked on the roadside. Consider taillights as a turn signal. I wish cars were required to indicate they were functioning at all times.

    At intersections be aware of other on coming traffic wanting to make left-hand turns. Remember, there is no “right of way”. Slow down and have your foot on the brake (guard position) as you move through intersections. Also be aware if you slow down, this might invite the other driver to turn in front of you, (your call). I slow down at the last possible moment, but to begin with, I’d recommend being well below the speed limit.

    Also, when in traffic, beware of cars with bumper stickers, flags, tinted windows and aggressive styling etc. Remember, everyone is crazy; people simply have different ways of dealing with it. A quarter of the population is barely functional. They are a force of nature and not responsible for their actions. Don’t be angry with them or expect them to obey the rules.

    Think with your brakes, not with your gas pedal.

    Nothing can be done about the intensity of traffic accidents, however you can alter the frequency. Whenever possible, don’t drive your car; in terms of probability, less road time is your best protection. Don’t even pick up the dice.

    As an additional note, be aware that 10% of pedestrian /vehicle accidents occur on the sidewalks. Despite the traffic regulations, NYC police consider driving on the sidewalks acceptable. Be cautious especially walking down narrow streets where drivers will commonly access the sidewalks for passing; watch your back.

  10. Richard says,

    Excellent reminders . Was taught in old fashioned ‘drivers ed’ to lightly tap a beep of the horn when backing, especially if near pets, children and if the view is obstructed by larger vehicles alongside. And move slow. Having learned to drive on the “landship limousines” of the 70s, I always leave space to the front and slowly change lanes gradually moving over. The young skilled guys in modern highly manueverable cars today are too reckless with their tailgating and zigzagging aggressive techniques.

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