How to Avoid Backend Collisions

Author: Tom Boehler, Senior Safety and Compliance Director at The Erb Group of Companies

Over many years of accident review with drivers, we hear the comment, “I had no control over it because they hit me from behind.” On the contrary, drivers do have control. Drivers should be coached and encouraged to practice 360 defensive driving.

Actionable tips

Most important, drivers need to remember their defensive driving techniques, as taught in programs like the Smith System. Simply broken down to See the hazard, Think about the response, and Do (act in time). At The Erb Group of Companies, we encourage drivers that they can control most situations using this concept.

As an example, you see something happening ahead, and already know a car is excessively tailgating you, flash your brake lights while slowly starting to brake earlier. Years ago, we had a US driver in Pennsylvania driving in icy conditions. He crested the hill and observed an accident at the bottom of the hill. He lifted his foot off the throttle, flashed the brakes, and used slight braking as to not lock them up. Upon slowly rolling up to a four-vehicle accident, he was not only able to carefully control his rig but also everyone behind him. His early awareness is what made this a safe situation.

Peak season

We tend to see more backend collisions on our trucks during the summer months. Passenger vehicles are in summer mode, heading to the cottage, tunes playing, additional passengers, and drivers are more encaged in excitement of the weekend verses driving. Generally, in the summer months, people are more confident in driving which leads to more aggressive driving and tailgating. The 2020 Ontario Road Safety Annual Report, demonstrates the number of collisions increasing starting in July. You’ll also commonly see more rear end collisions in urban regions such at the Greater Toronto Area as there are more abrupt stops occurring.

Fostering a learning environment

In 2017, The Erb Group implemented DriveCam Event recorders. These were implemented to help drivers learn from mistakes and ultimately protect the driver if an accident did occur if it was not their fault. Every spring and fall, we host mandatory meetings for drivers which focuses on safety education. We sit down and review the latest DriveCam footage and talk through how accidents could’ve been prevented. The point we want drivers to understand, is the need for awareness and setting precautions. At the end of the day, ask yourself “did I take all reasonable actions to prevent the accident from happening, despite the wrong action of others?” Remember “Safety” is not the penalty box, refreshing your memory regularly on the fundamentals of safe driving will keep those around you safe and will get you home safely to your family, they are all depending on you to practise safety first!

To learn more about The Erb Group of Companies safety-first culture and driving jobs, visit our website

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