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Why Do Rear-End Collisions Happen in Portland, and Who’s to Blame?

Posted on January 5, 2023 in

Every year, the state of Oregon experiences more than 10,000 rear-end collisions, about thirty of which are fatal. More than 9,000 people get injured in these crashes across the state. So why do rear-end collisions happen in Portland, and who’s causing all these accidents?

There are several reasons rear-end collisions may happen, but almost all of them end up being the rear driver’s fault. Read on to learn more about Portland rear-end collisions and what you can do about them.

Driver-Caused Accidents

One of the most common causes of rear-end collisions is driver error. There are several mistakes drivers can make that may lead to a crash.

Distracted Driving

Driving is a complex activity, and unfortunately, too many drivers think they can get away with multitasking. People may text, send emails, get caught up in phone calls, do their makeup, or even attempt to read or watch videos. 

These kinds of distractions can take away the split-second reaction time a driver needs to avoid a rear-end collision. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of these accidents.

Drowsy Driving

According to the CDC, one in three American adults doesn’t get as much sleep as they need. And driving drowsy can be nearly as dangerous as driving under the influence. Your reflexes are dulled, your decision-making abilities are worse, and you don’t have what you need to stop in time to avoid a crash.

Driving Under the Influence

Of course, driving drunk is always dangerous, but many rear-end collisions are the result of someone driving under the influence

Studies have shown that when your BAC is 0.8, your reaction time slows down by about a tenth of a second. This means that at 70 miles per hour, you’d travel another 12 feet before reacting to obstacles in the road.


Even if you’re driving sober, speeding is a great way to wind up rear-ending someone. 

Speed limits represent the maximum speed it is safe to drive based on the path of the road and the surrounding terrain. Driving faster than the speed limit cuts your reaction time significantly and may also put you at greater risk of hitting slower drivers.


If someone is going slower than you like on a road, tailgating is not the answer. Tailgating, or driving too close to the car in front of you, also cuts down your reaction time and can make it impossible to stop in time. 

As a rule of thumb, you want to be at least two seconds behind the car in front of you, no matter what speed you’re going.

Aggressive Driving

Some drivers make it their mission to punish other drivers who they feel aren’t up to snuff. 

Aggressive driving tactics can include tailgating, cutting off other drivers, dodging in and out of traffic, passing on the right, and other dangerous behaviors. All of these put you too close to other cars and can seriously increase your risk of a rear-end collision.

Road and Weather Conditions

While most of the rear-end collisions in Portland result from driver misbehavior, some are outside the driver’s control. Most of the time, these accidents are the result of atmospheric conditions or problems with the car.

Wet or Icy Roads

The presence of water or ice on a road reduces the friction between your tires and the roadway. It will take you longer to stop even if you’re not making any of the mistakes we mentioned above. 

During wet or icy conditions, you need to give yourself extra space between you and the car in front of you so you’ll have enough time to stop if needed.

Foggy Conditions

While fog doesn’t impact how long it takes you to stop, it does change how long it takes to see an obstacle in the road. 

On a clear day and a flat road, you may be able to see objects up to three miles away. In the fog, you may only have a few feet of visibility, so you’ll want to slow down in these conditions.

Heavy Rain

Heavy rain combines all the worst threats of wet roads and foggy conditions. Not only is your friction lower in the rain, but you may not be able to see very far in front of you during severe storms. 

Slow down, avoid using cruise control, and don’t be afraid to pull over and let the storm pass if visibility gets too low.

Poorly Lit Roads

If you live in one of the more rural areas around Portland, you may have to drive on poorly lit roads on a routine basis. At night, you may only be able to see a few feet in front of your headlights, which can cut your reaction time down to almost nothing. 

Use your high beams appropriately, and consider slowing down on roads with low visibility.

Car Defects

In rare cases, problems with a car can cause a rear-end collision. You may remember a few years ago when Toyota had to issue massive recalls due to uncontrollable acceleration in their cars. Brake failures can also lead to a crash if the driver can’t get to the emergency brake in time.

Who Is at Fault?

In almost all cases, a rear-end collision is considered the fault of the driver in the rear car. 

Drivers are responsible for maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of them. This rule applies even when weather conditions are bad, roads are poorly lit, or a driver is going slower than the flow of traffic.

There are a very few scenarios where a tailing driver might not be responsible for a rear-end collision. Obviously if the front driver backs into the driver behind them, that isn’t the rear driver’s fault. And in the unusual situation when a manufacturer defect causes the collision, the car company may be held responsible for the accident, rather than the driver.

Get the Representation You Deserve

Rear-end collisions can have many causes ranging from driver error to bad weather. The most common cause of rear-end collisions in Portland is driver error, whether that be driving under the influence, driving drowsy, or speeding. In some cases, wet or foggy conditions or a problem with the car can cause these crashes.

If you’ve been injured in a rear-end collision where you were in the front car, you may be entitled to compensation. We can help you prove that you weren’t at fault in the accident and fight insurance companies to get you a fair settlement. Our lawyers are available 24/7 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.

Contact Our Car Accident Attorneys in Portland, OR

If you were injured in an accident in Portland, OR, please contact our Portland car accident lawyers at Tillmann Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyer to schedule a free consultation today.

Tillmann Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyer
101 SW Main St. #1905
Portland, OR, 97204
(503) 773-3333

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