Psychology Of El Paso Rear-End Crashes

Two cars in collision on roadway

Drivers have to make decisions about how to respond to stimuli on the road throughout El Paso, Socorro, Horizon City, and Fort Bliss. A rear-end accident lawyer knows when motorists make decisions, sometimes they have inaccurate and imperfect information and thus make unsafe choices. When this happens, rear-end accidents are likely to occur.

Rear-end accidents are one of the most common types of all U.S. motor vehicle accidents according to Inside Science. More than 1.8 million of these accidents happen every single year, and these collisions account for a total of 29 percent of injury-causing crashes within the U.S.

Recently, Visual Expert took a close look at why so many of these collisions likely occur within the United States.

Why Do Rear-End Accidents Happen?

Visual Expert points out that the majority of time, motorists are able to stop in time to avoid rear-end accidents. As a result, there must be a reason why sometimes they can’t respond in time. Psychology can help to explain why this occurs.

Drivers travel on the road with other cars all the time, and routinely see vehicles in front of their own. Motorists obviously don’t stop every time they see a car in their path. Instead, drivers make a decision about whether to hit the brakes by subconsciously assessing the time-to-collision. A process called optical image transformation is used by your eyes and brain to assess the time to collision and decide how to respond.

While some people think that they assess time to collision by looking at headway (highway space between your car and the lead vehicle), this is actually not used by most drivers because it is imperfect and hard to judge. Instead, looming motion helps you assess the amount of time you have before you hit the car in front of you.

The immediate time to collision is 1.5 seconds, but drivers don’t always react every time they see a looming vehicle that close to them. This is because drivers can travel at this following distance safely in most instances since most drivers don’t slam on their brakes all of a sudden. Looming distance is thus only one of several different considerations when you decide whether to hit the brakes.

Other information that you take into account includes things like the capacity of your vehicle, as well as the available alternatives that you have as you are driving. Unfortunately, the body cannot create a standard learned response by taking all of these stimuli into account because you have imperfect information about some of these factors. For example, you likely do not know what your vehicle’s capability is when you slam on the brakes at 60 MPH because most drivers don’t do this.

The imperfect information you have and lack of learned response makes it hard to respond when an “error trap” occurs in the form of a car that suddenly stops in front of you. This explains why so many drivers get caught in the error tap and are involved in rear-end accidents.

An accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Michael J. Gopin, PLLC can help victims of injury in El Paso and suburbs including Socorro, Horizon City, and Fort Bliss. Call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 or visit to schedule your free consultation.

Michael J. Gopin

Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. It was two weeks after receiving his license, when he represented a person whose life had been forever changed after being blinded in a work-related incident...


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