Traffic jams happen everywhere and they are usually an inevitable part of commuting during the morning and evening rush hour. This raises the question: is traffic congestion a factor in many highway crashes?
The answer is no. Highway crashes occur during heavy traffic congestion because of the actions of careless and reckless drivers.
Rear-end collisions are more likely
When traffic backs up on the highway, motorists must be prepared to slow down and endure a stretch of stop-and-go driving. Several factors raise the likelihood of a rear-end collision, including:
- Distracted driving — texting and driving, multitasking, using built-in infotainment features, reaching for items inside car
- Speeding and reckless driving
- Drunk or drugged driving — which impairs judgment and reaction time
- Inclement weather conditions — heavy rain, fog, and rare icy conditions
- Brake defects
Rear-end collisions that occur during stop-and-go driving may not happen at high impact, but can still result in whiplash. This injury occurs when a person's neck jerks forward and backward in a whip-like motion. According to a 2009 study dubbed "Biomechanics of Whiplash Injury" and published in the Chinese Journal of Traumatology, there are three phases of whiplash:
- Forward flexion of the cervical spine, causing the neck to lose its normal curve
- Extension of the bones in the lower neck in the opposite direction
- Post-impact neck extension
Symptoms of whiplash don't always appear immediately after a rear-end collision, but can set in hours or even days later. People who sustain whiplash often experience:
- Discomfort, pain, and stiffness in the neck
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Discomfort and pain in the shoulders and limbs
- Dizziness, confusion, trouble concentrating
- Irritability and mood changes
- Sleep disturbances
That's why drivers who are rear-ended, even at low impact, should seek immediate medical attention. Ignoring the symptoms of whiplash can cause the condition to worsen over time and reduce your chances of being compensated for medical expenses and lost wages through a car accident claim.
Rear-end collisions at high impact
Traffic can come to a sudden halt on the highway, either because of construction or another crash. Drivers at the end of the line are at greater risk of being rear-ended at high impact than those further up in the traffic jam.
High-impact rear-end collisions often occur at full speed when drivers are distracted or drowsy. Speeding is often a factor, as well. Most interstates in Texas have speed limits of 70 mph but not all drivers obey the posted speed limit, and even when they apply their brakes moments before a collision, the impact can be devastating.
At high-impact, injuries can go far beyond whiplash. They often include:
- Broken bones
- Spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal organ damage
If you were injured in a rear-end collision, your recovery will likely require costly medical procedures, x-rays, MRIs, medication for pain and inflammation, and physical therapy. Depending on how severe your injury is, you may be out of work for a lengthy period of time, unable to collect a paycheck.
You shouldn't have to pay because of someone else's careless or reckless behavior. That's why you should consult with an experienced East Texas car accident attorney at Weinstein Law as soon as possible. We have more than 20 years of experience representing injured motorists throughout greater Athens. To set up your free consultation, contact us online today.