You often hear that in a rear-end accident, the “following driver” is at fault. The idea behind this theory is that drivers are always supposed to maintain adequate following distances so that they can stop in time to avoid a crash. If a driver fails to do so, then they’re at fault.
This is true in many cases. However, it’s important to remember that there are some ways in which the front driver can be at fault. For example, one of the biggest problems for semitruck drivers is that people in other vehicles will cut them off and cause rear-end accidents that these drivers cannot avoid.
Why does this happen?
Perhaps the biggest reason why this happens is that drivers of cars often do not understand the stopping distances that truck drivers need. They assume that every vehicle can stop in roughly the same amount of distance that they would need to stop their vehicle, but this is not true. A semitruck takes needs nearly twice the distance to stop as a car does.
So imagine a situation in which a semi driver has to apply the brakes as they approach a red light. They start braking early, knowing they need extra distance to stop. But then another driver sees the empty space in front of the truck, merges into their lane and slams on the brakes to stop before the light. There is nothing that truck driver can do to bring their vehicle to a halt sooner, so they get involved in an unavoidable rear-end accident.
This helps to show how truck drivers are not always responsible for the accidents they are involved in. Truck drivers and their employers who find themselves in this position certainly need to understand their legal options.