When you’re a seasoned driver, it can be easy to lose sight of some basic rules of the road, like keeping an adequate cushion between you and other cars on the road. While this often refers to cars in front of you, it’s also important to be cognizant of cars that are behind you and on either side. General guidelines say that about a 3-second cushion is the right distance between you and other cars in your lane, but below are some tips to keep yourself out of the car accident doctor’s office and safely on the road.
Rules for Distance
While the rule is at least a 3-second space between you and the car in front of you, the key is “at least.” In a situation with less than ideal weather conditions or very fast speeds, it’s better to err on the side of caution and leave a 4- or 5-second space.
While you can’t measure the distance to your sides in seconds, keeping a good cushion here is also important. Try to stay in the middle of the lane and not have your tires touch the painted lines to avoid being too close to the next car over.
If you get cut off and your cushion is invaded, simply ease your foot off the gas pedal and slow down until you have a safe distance again. Be cognizant of the distance behind you as well.
To determine your distance, choose a fixed point on the road ahead of you and notice when the car you are behind passes that point. Count three seconds. If you reach that point before you get to three, you do not have an adequate distance; if you finish counting before you hit that point, you are in the right spot.
One of the most common types of accidents is known as a rear-end collision, in which a car slams into the back of the car ahead of it. If you do not have adequate space between cars and you need to brake unexpectedly, the car behind you is likely to hit your car before it can slow down properly. While rear-end accidents are often minor, they can also contribute to some serious injuries.
Whiplash is the most common injury related to car accidents and is heavily associated with being rear-ended. In this case, the body continues to move after the car has stopped, causing a violent back and forth motion of the head. This can stretch soft tissue in the neck beyond its normal capacity, leading to tears and strains that cause pain and stiffness.
Airbags are also designed to deploy during a rear-end collision, and while they can be a lifesaving measure, they can also cause bruising or burns, especially if not used properly.
Most side collisions involve a car’s front hitting the side of your car, also known as being “t-boned” due to the shape the cars make. However, failing to leave distance between you and cars in other lanes can lead to being side-swiped, which has its own dangers. Whiplash can still occur here, but often the impact leads to movement that causes blunt force trauma to the head or body, leading to broken bones.
A side-swipe collision can also cause your car to be jerked out of place and potentially hit other cars or medians, leading to much more serious accidents and injuries.
The Aftermath of Car Accident Injuries
Unfortunately, even if we leave an adequate cushion while driving, we can’t always control the cars around us and accidents are inevitable. If you do find yourself in a car accident, it’s important to have your injuries treated professionally as soon as possible.
At AICA College Park, we’re experts in car accident-related injuries. In addition to understanding the various types of injuries that can occur, we can use information about your accident to develop comprehensive and personalized treatment plans. Whiplash brought on by a rear-end collision may manifest differently than whiplash from a side-swipe, so our intake process will seek to understand your positioning in diagnosing your injuries.
If you’ve recently been in an accident of any kind, contact AICA College Park today to begin work with our team.