It’s that time of year again when we start seeing more whiplash cases from motor vehicle collisions in the clinic. Regardless of how much damage is done to the vehicle, crashes often cause significant spinal pain, limited range of motion, and tight, sore muscles. These injuries can be stubborn healers, too, frequently taking longer than the standard 4-6 weeks for a broken bone to heal. In the hundreds of these cases that I have personally treated, I have learned a few tips on what situations to avoid on the road to reduce my chances of being in a collision. Here is a list of some of the most common ways my motor vehicle injury patients have been injured. My hope is that it will help you stay out of harm’s way and out of my office!
1. Dead stop: The majority of my whiplash patients have been rear-ended while at a complete stop. Granted, sometimes it is because they stop abruptly, however, more often than not they have been stopped for some time when they are hit by somebody who isn’t paying attention. Keep an eye on your rear view mirror when stopping to make sure the person behind you is slowing to a stop as well.
2. “Suicide” lane: There is a reason the middle turn lane has been given this moniker. Avoid it whenever possible, because it can be entered by cars from either direction without warning. Some people will enter this lane when turning from a side street while they wait to merge into the far lane. I choose to wait until there is enough of a clearing that I can just cross right over into the far lane and not become a sitting duck in the middle turn lane.
3. Traffic jam: Do you remember what the recommended following distance is for driving on the freeway? If you’re like me, it’s been a long time since your driver’s test, so I’ll remind you. For good conditions, leave 2 seconds between you and the car in front of you. For poor weather conditions or night driving, leave 4 seconds. For major inclement weather such as snow, fog, or ice, you should leave 6 seconds between you and the car you follow. If you spend any time on the freeways in and around Portland, you know that traffic can slow down or stop VERY abruptly, so don’t ignore this guidance.
4. Look both ways…more than once: A lot of auto injuries occur from collisions with cross traffic. When entering a busy road, double and triple check traffic in both directions. And please make sure you have plenty of space to enter the lane. You can’t be too careful in this scenario.
Whiplash and other auto-related injuries are a serious problem and should not go untreated. If you or a loved one has recently been in an auto accident, contact us with any questions you may have or to schedule a consultation.