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4 October, 2013

Avoiding Rear-End Shunts (and Whiplash!) from RED CEO, Ian McIntosh

Following Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling’s BBC radio appearance, discussing the “compensation culture” which has grown up around British motor insurance claims. RED’s CEO, Ian McIntosh shares some tips for avoiding being a part the whiplash phenomenon.

Ian has clocked plenty of miles and experience of driving, but even for the most proficient and experienced drivers, the potential for unexpected accidents to happen is there.

Trust me when I say that you do not want to be hit from behind by another vehicle, the resulting injury can be very unpleasant. Forget dreams of large insurance claims – the industry is tightening up its tolerance of dubious claims. Rear end collisions are best avoided. Perhaps avoided is the wrong word, but you can reduce the chances of it happening to you too, and here’s how:

  1. Look for traffic stopping ahead of you long before the vehicle in front of you actually brakes. This will give you the time to brake sooner and more gently, making the vehicles behind you brake sooner too. This reduces the chance of drivers behind you slamming on the brakes too late, and slamming into you.
  2. Slow gradually when stopping at the lights or stop sign. This will make the vehicle behind you also slow gradually. If you rush up to a red light and then brake hard, the driver behind you may not react too swiftly.
  3. Check your mirrors more often. When coming to a stop or when slowing on the motorway, always look at vehicles behind in the mirror. Maybe the driver behind you has been distracted by his phone, and that second or two makes all the difference on high speed stretches of road.
  4. There may not have been any vehicles behind you when you initially stopped but keep one eye on cars approaching from behind. They too could be distracted and not immediately notice that you have stopped or have slowed.
  5. So you’ve just realized that the car behind isn’t going to stop in time. If possible, consider an escape route: is there anywhere you can rapidly move your car to? For example, the hard shoulder? If you’ve left a sizeable gap in front of you, just moving your car forward by a metre might avoid being rear-ended!
  6. When you stop, leave a significant gap between you and the vehicle in front. If you pull up close-behind the vehicle in front, you have locked yourself in and eliminated any options for manoeuvring to avoid any cars behind you.
  7. Many drivers will instinctively brake harder when being struck from behind as their first reaction to a collusion. Stay tuned in to what is happening around you: be prepared to accelerate and steer to where you want to go.
  8. Check your brake lights frequently. If they don’t work, you really are inviting a rear-end shunt!
  9. If someone is tail-gating you or driving closer than you would like, find a way to politely let them pass you. Better to get there safe and relaxed.
  10. For new drivers, learning needn’t stop on the roads – some of the best learning is visual. Why not check out RED’s Road Brain Trainer tools, designed to supplement learner drivers in their training.