This article was written for one of our sister sites, 924S944.com, which deals with the care, rescue and restoration of Porsche 924S and 944 cars. This article was republished here to help our readers avoid rear-end crashes – regardless of what they drive. -Ed
Here at 924S944.com, we browse the salvage sites like Copart looking for parts cars and even the occasional “mechanical” that can be brought back to life for our Porsche projects. Over the past few years, one fact has surfaced that is troubling – if a car gets rear-ended, the car will probably be totaled by the insurance company. Even if the damage is relatively minor, the cost of repair outpaces the value and the car is sent to the crusher. The good news is that we are provided with a treasure trove of good used parts. If the crash happens to your own car, though, the news is bad.
A friend in the Orlando area had a Porsche 944S with a sick engine, so he spent a ton of money having the engine replaced with a rebuilt 3.0L Porsche 944S2 engine, and threw in a full leather interior and other goodies. A couple of months after the job was completed and the bills were paid, the poor thing was rear-ended. The crash was not bad enough to break the glass hatch, though. Even so, the insurance company totaled the car. We bought it, grafted the rear light-and-bumper section from another car, and retitled it as “rebuilt.” Its new owner is thrilled – it’s a great car, but it has a stain on its title and Carfax.
Copart is filled with examples of this car. So if you get hit in the rear, there is a pretty good chance that the insurance company will write it off and you will lose your car.
The trick, then, is to avoid getting hit altogether.
So here are some tips on how to protect yourself in this distracted-driving world of highways and byways…
- 360-degree awareness: You cannot defend yourself from things that you don’t see. Develop and use a system of 360-degree awareness to see not only what is ahead, but what is going on behind and beside you.
- Follow at a safe distance: You don’t want to hit someone else, but by keeping a safe following distance, you have a buffer that means when you see the car coming up behind you too fast, you can move forward or otherwise maneuver to avoid getting hit.
- When stopped, make sure you can see the rear tires of the car ahead touching the road: This sounds strange, but if you can see the rear tires on the street, you have enough room to pull out and go around should it become necessary. Any closer, you may not be able to maneuver and be stuck there, waiting to get hit. It also gives you a little more room to move up if needed.
- Be aware of “traffic dynamics” and avoid hazardous situations: This one will take a bit to explain, but stay with us. If you are stopped in heavy traffic and no one is stopped behind you, and no one is beside you, this can create a “traffic dynamics” problem. A car approaching in your lane evaluates the situation and instead of slowing down to stop, waits until the last moment and changes lanes at speed into the open lane beside you. However, the car behind him does not see that traffic ahead is stopped, makes no preparation, and when he realizes that traffic is stopped, has no option but to slam on his anti-lock brakes and hope that he stops in time. Many, many highway chain-reaction crashes start this way. So how can you avoid it? Honestly, it is difficult to avoid, but if you are following the 360-degree awareness and seeing the rear tires touching the road rules, you may be able to pull out of the way in time to keep from getting hit – and letting the poor fool in front of you get the brunt of the collision.
- If you know you are about to get hit, take your hands off the wheel: When we know that the crash is about to happen, we tend to tense up and brace ourselves for the hit. However the forces involved in a crash normally exceed the strength of our muscles and bones. Let go of the wheel, cross your arms on your chest, and put your head back. It’s still going to hurt, but at least you won’t break hands, wrists or arms trying to be a human seat belt. (On cars with air bags this also helps to deal with the air bag deployment from the steering wheel.)
It doesn’t take much of a rear-end crash to total your car and/or create injuries inside your car. While these tips are not guaranteed to keep you safe, they will help. Happy motoring!
About the Author: Kevin Duffy is the principal of 924S944.com LLC and a lifelong Porsche 924, 924S and 944 devotee. During his pre-retirement days, he was a police officer, investigator, trainer and criminal justice educator for forty-five years. During this time, he investigated untold numbers of car crashes including fatalities involving cars, trucks, motorcycles and pedestrians. He was also a prolific enforcer of the more serious traffic violations, including drunk and drugged driving. While each crash is different, the most dangerous driver on the road today is the distracted driver, allowing the car to drive without guidance while the “driver” is occupied with other things.
There was a story today about a Tesla in Connecticut who hit a police car stopped behind a disabled vehicle with emergency lights on. The Tesla’s driver admitted that the car was on AutoPilot and he was turned around checking on his dog in the back seat. No one was injured.