Rear End Collisions Safety

The New York Times reported yesterday that according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, auto manufacturers have made significant progress in improving the safety of drivers and their passengers in frontal and side-impact collisions but still lag behind in making cars safe in rear-end accidents.

In rear-end tests that were conducted, two of the best selling cars, the Toyota Camry and the Dodge Caliber, were rated marginal, the second-lowest of four possible scores. All six models tested earned at least an acceptable rating in frontal tests, but only the Kia Optima, a mid-size sedan, was given a passing grade in rear-end crashes.

Rear-end impacts are the most common type of accident, making up millions of insurance claims every year (most for property damage). Rear-end accidents are the stepchild of safety efforts from car makers. To some extent, this is understandable as frontal and side crashes are far more likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities. This is also reflected in settlement and verdicts. The average rear-end accident case resolves for only $8,715 over the last six years, according to Jury Verdict Research, compared to $30,000 for head-on collisions. Still, you would like to see the auto manufacturers make improvements in protecting occupants in rear-end collisions as well because they do, while less frequently, cause serious and fatal injuries.

A fear I have is that automakers are going to start making smaller cars as demand for fuel efficient cars increases. While I am all in favor of reducing our dependence on foreign oil, the death toll on our nation’s highways is going to increase dramatically when we are all driving Yugos.

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  • Ron:

    I have handled many rear-end cases when I used to work for the insurance industry as a defense lawyer and now represent victims of rear-end accidents. After my wife and I both fell victim last year to what the insurance industry characterized as low impact rear-end accidents, I could not ethically reconcile minimizing the types of injuries associated with these collisions which can range anywhere from minor soft tissue muscle strains/sprains, to severe, permanent and debilitating spine, head and neck injuries.

    As I am sure you are aware from your experiences, and specially in the Baltimore-D.C. Metro area with the heavy traffic congestion, these type of accidents make up I believe an estimated 25-30% of the costs associated with insurance pay-outs.
    If it is any indication from my accident, I was struck by a vehicle relative in size to my sedan and sustained short term soft tissue injuries, whereas my wife was struck in her sedan by a large SUV and sustained herniated cervical disk permanent injuries. Maybe if we all drove Hugo’s we would be safer after all?

  • Jeannette Park

    Thank you for your blog and for the information on this site. I was injured 3 years ago in a rear end collision and as a result of that accident have a titanium plate with 8 screws and countless metal pins holding my neck together. I have been searching for a car that’s specifically designed to protect the passengers in rear end collisions. Alas, no such beast yet exists. So I will continue to check your site periodically for updates. Kind regards, J Park

  • nancy smith

    i was in a rear end collision auto accident,and i was hit twice.i drive a scion xb and to look at the car at a glance you could not tell…things started showing up on car a week later so we had it checked out…it seems somehow that one of the hits caused my car to drag it’s front under belly and caused alot of damage…my car was three weeks old…the third party of this wreck was charged for this accident..but their insurance co. claims this could not have happened at this accident….any advice?thank you nfs

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