Tips to avoid rear-end collisions and stay safe on the road

Many people working for DEW are required to drive in metropolitan, regional and remote areas of the state as part of their everyday duties. If you’re one of them, take measures to ensure that you are staying safe on the road. 

Car accidents are a risk for anyone driving, but the risk increases for staff members that are on the road frequently.

Rear-end crashes are the most common type of crash for drivers of all ages. Often they are caused by a driver in the vehicle behind following too close to the vehicle in front. Or they can be caused by driver distraction even when there is adequate time to stop.

Below are a number of useful tips to avoid or reduce the severity of a rear-end collision.

Give yourself space while travelling

The acceptable minimum following distance is the distance your vehicle will travel in 3 seconds, which equates to about eight or nine car lengths at 60 km/h. The Mylicense website provides a time-lapse formula to help you calculate a safe distance for any speed or vehicle braking system.

You may need a larger distance if driving in difficult conditions.

Give yourself space when you stop

When you come to a halt behind stationary traffic, ensure that you can see where the road surface meets the tyres of the car in front. This provides enough space to allow you to get around vehicles which have broken down or move out of the way if it looks like the vehicle behind you is not slowing down.

Lights and movement attract attention

If you find yourself at the end of a line of stationary traffic, or if you are turning without a slip lane, watch traffic approaching from behind by frequently checking your mirrors.

If cars are not slowing down, tap your brake lights to make them flash or turn on your hazard lights to attract attention. That can be enough warning for other drivers to stop at short notice.

When you are stationary for longer periods, at road works for example, be mindful that your brake lights will not be active if your park brake is on. A good idea is to also apply your foot brake pedal to ensure your brake lights stay illuminated.

Avoid distraction

The Safe Drivers Handbook notes that simple distractions can increase your risk of a crash by up to four times. It should go without saying that if your phone is a distraction, put it where you cannot see it or hear it while you drive, or give it to someone in the car who isn’t driving.

Be highly alert if stopping on a freeway or highway

The last car in a stationary line of traffic on a freeway or highway is in a really vulnerable position. This is because many drivers do not expect vehicles to be stopped on roads where traffic generally moves at high speed.

It can take heavy vehicles a significant time to stop if they are fully loaded and travelling at maximum speed. Check your mirrors constantly.

These tips have been provided by staff following a recent incident on a straight section of the Sturt Highway where semi-trailers and B-double trucks are licensed to travel at 100 km/Hr and road trains up to 90 km/Hr. A heavy vehicle driver involved failed to stop in time and caused a rear-end collision even though they had at least a kilometre of clear view of the stationary traffic.

For more detailed information on safe driving techniques and to brush up on your driving know-how, visit the Mylicense website.