Car Wreck 031

Rear-Ended a Car? Yep, Your Fault

People sometimes snidely make reference to the fact that a rear-end collision is always the fault of the car in the back. Have you seen the insurance commercial in which Mayhem, the recurring character who personifies policyholder nightmares, stomps on his brakes because he’s just lost millions on the stock market? If Mayhem slammed on the brakes, then he caused the car accident and he knows it, right?

Wrong.

Well, he may have hit the brakes intentionally, but it seems unlikely that he would admit to that on an accident report. He also knows by default, the driver who rear-ended his fancy $90,000 car will be held accountable for the car accident. But why is that?

Driver’s are expected, by law and by other drivers, to constantly think ahead to what may happen farther down the road; the literal road. Your personal safety, the well-being of your passengers and your vehicle depend on that forethought.

Section 42-4-1008 “Following too closely” of the Colorado Revised Statutes spells it out for us.

(1)  The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.

Hazards don’t give a warning (as we all know)! When we’re at the wheel of a speeding motor vehicle, we need to allow ourselves enough time to see a hazard up ahead (like a car stopping suddenly), to process what’s happening and then to react.

The Colorado Driver Handbook gives an explanation of how to be sure we’re not driving too closely behind the car in front of us. It says, “Under normal conditions, use the ‘THREE SECOND RULE.’ Watch the car ahead of you; when it passes a reference point (such as a mile marker, sign or telephone pole) then count ‘one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.’ If you pass the reference point before you finish counting, you are following too closely.”

So, there we have it. The Colorado Code tells us to allow enough reaction time between our vehicle and the vehicle up ahead. But just in case you get the itch to break that rule, remember that here in Colorado, following too closely is considered a class A traffic infraction.