More than 1.5 million rear-end collisions occur every year, and most have one avoidable cause. Advanced car safety systems such as collision avoidance can help prevent some accidents, but they aren’t available on all vehicles. Conscientious drivers who want to avoid rear-end collisions can do so for free by following one simple rule.

The best way to prevent rear-end collisions: Don’t text and drive

car accidents, car safety

A rear-end collision between a BMW and a passenger bus | Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

When you get a driver’s license, you agree to follow the rules of the road. As a licensed driver, you are obligated to exercise caution behind the wheel. Drive at a safe speed, follow at a reasonable distance, and maintain control of your vehicle at all times. Even a brief glance at your phone takes attention away from driving, and that’s when a rear-end collision is apt to occur.

Driving is a privilege that comes with numerous responsibilities. It’s not the same as a video game, and if you crash into someone from behind, you can’t simply reset and move on. If someone rear-ends you, you could be injured or worse, and you can’t refill your life points for any price. If you are driving, don’t text. It’s as simple (and complicated) as that.

How to resist the temptation to text while driving

Rear-end collisions happen often, but they don’t have to happen to you. When you’re behind the wheel, pay attention to driving and only driving. Resist the urge to read or send a text in five easy ways:

  1. Appoint a passenger to be the designated texter.
  2. Enable your smartphone’s Do Not Disturb feature.
  3. Enact and/or follow strict parental rules that forbid texting while driving.
  4. Mute your phone and turn off vibrate mode before you start your car’s engine.
  5. Put your phone in the trunk or glovebox.

Cell-phone laws work to reduce rear-end collisions and other car accidents

Read the new report on distracted driving: https://t.co/6NsYaeEGy7 pic.twitter.com/YdjrxO5XZv

— IIHS (@IIHS_autosafety) January 25, 2019

When car phones became a thing, they weren’t capable of doing what modern smartphones can do. Today, cell phones can be used as navigation devices, web browsers, game consoles, and portals to social media platforms.

In response to these distracting phone features, most states limit phone interactions while in the driver’s seat of a vehicle on public roadways. Texting and driving is so dangerous that there are laws against it.

Some regulations address specific behaviors, such as text or handheld calls, but still allow use of phones for other purposes, like video-recording public roads in California.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, broader laws that ban holding or looking at a smartphone are even more effective at preventing distracted driving in the Pacific Northwest. After studying police reports, the IIHS concluded that rear-end collision rates per 100,000 drivers dropped dramatically when Oregon and Washington enacted laws barring drivers from holding phones.

Texting is not the only driving distraction to avoid

As with any car accident, it’s important for authorities and insurance companies to know who caused a rear-end collision and why. A driver who hits another vehicle from behind is often blamed because chances are good they weren’t paying attention to traffic.

However, the driver of the car behind isn’t always at fault. Sometimes, the driver in front causes a rear-end collision when they cut off the other driver or suddenly stop, Forbes explains. But based on the IIHS stats, it’s safe to say texting and other driver distractions are major contributing factors in rear-end collisions and other types of car crashes nationwide.

Besides texting, dangerous driver distractions include:

  • Drinking
  • Eating
  • Smoking/vaping
  • Fiddling with the infotainment system
  • Programming or reading GPS
  • Unruly passengers

No matter where you’re going or who tries to text you, ignore your phone until you’re safely parked. If you refuse to text every time you drive, you can avoid most rear-end collisions.

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