California drivers should know that rear-end collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are the most common type of motor vehicle accident. Many of these collisions are caused by drivers who follow too closely to the vehicle in front of them.

The National Safety Council recommends a following distance of three seconds; this usually gives drivers enough time to slow down, brake or make an evasive maneuver when the vehicle in front does something unexpected. However, this is a general rule of thumb and does not apply to every road and weather condition.

Rain and snow, for example, will make the roads slick, reducing vehicles’ traction and increasing their braking distance. Fog will make it hard to see what is ahead. In such cases, drivers must increase their following distance to at least six seconds. Drivers also need to take into account their own behavior behind the wheel. If they distract themselves with their phone or with eating and drinking, then three seconds will be insufficient.

Besides avoiding a crash, drivers should never tailgate because this is one of the most common manifestations of road rage. Such rage can easily escalate before drivers are even aware of it.

Many car accidents are caused by negligence, such as by the failure to maintain a safe following distance, while others are caused by reckless conduct, such as by aggressive driving. The fault in any crash may be shared between more than one driver, affecting the chances of victims recovering damages. It may be wise, then, for crash victims to have a lawyer assist with the filing of their personal injury claim.