Image of a car crash as viewed through a windshield

There are few types of crashes on South Carolina’s roads more disruptive and dangerous than multi-vehicle pile-ups.

By definition, pile-ups are crashes that involve three or more vehicles. But in many cases, pile-ups involve a dozen or more vehicles. All of the drivers and passengers inside those vehicles may suffer serious and even life-threatening injuries.

As a driver, you can’t eliminate the possibility that you’ll be involved in a pile-up collision one day, but you can reduce your risk.

Here’s how.

Check and Replace Your Brakes and Tires as Needed

Avoiding pile-up crashes is all about being able to slow down or stop in time. But if you’re driving a vehicle with heavily worn brakes or tires, it’s much more difficult to do that.

Visually inspect your tires every few months. Check their tread levels and look for signs of damage and replace them if they’re noticeably bald or punctured. And if your brakes are squealing, clicking, or simply not stopping your vehicle as quickly and easily as they used to, chances are, the brake pads need to be replaced as well.

Increase Your Following Distance

Many pile-up collisions occur because a driver collides with another vehicle or is forced to slam on their brakes to avoid a collision. When the driver behind is unable to react in time because they were following too closely, they cause a rear-end collision. Then, another driver may rear-end the person who caused the first rear-end collision, creating a chain reaction that can involve several vehicles.

By increasing the amount of distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, your chances of being involved in a pile-up decrease significantly. More distance means more time to react to sudden slowdowns or stops, and more time for your brakes to slow down your vehicle.

Avoid Driving During Times of Low Visibility

Another common cause of pile-up crashes is low visibility. When drivers can’t see more than a few feet in front of them, they can’t react in time to avoid colliding with stopped or crashed vehicles.

Low visibility can occur during heavy rain, snow, and fog. Some of the largest pile-ups in history involving hundreds of vehicles occurred due to reduced visibility caused by fog or simply driving early in the morning or at night.

If at all possible, avoid driving when visibility is reduced to weather conditions. If you must drive, reduce your speed and remember to never use your high-beam headlights, as heavy fog, snow, and rain will simply reflect them into your eyes.

Keep Your Eyes on the Road Ahead (and Off Your Phone)

Many times, pile-ups can be avoided by seeing them or the events that cause them to occur before you reach the crash scene. Watch the brake lights of the vehicles in front of you. When you see multiple drivers pressing their brakes at the same time, it means you need to begin slowing down and even prepare to stop.

Simply observing the movements of the vehicles in front of you and the behavior of their drivers can help you avoid a pile-up, which is why it’s so important to avoid distractions. If you’re looking at your phone or another device, you aren’t looking at the road and getting the vital information you need to stay safe.

Pull Over if the Weather Suddenly Turns

Don’t be afraid to pull over to a safe location or even for the night if the weather suddenly becomes treacherous. Many pile-up crashes occur because of sudden lost visibility and lost traction. When drivers can’t see what’s in front of them and can’t slow down in time to avoid a collision, pile-ups are much more likely to occur.

If the weather or road conditions make it difficult for you to see or steer, there’s a good chance every other driver on the road is experiencing that difficulty, too. Pulling over to a safe spot, such as a wide shoulder or rest stop, or even stopping at a hotel for the night and waiting for conditions to improve the next day can help you avoid a potentially deadly crash.

Move Your Vehicle After a Minor Crash

Another common cause of pile-up crashes is drivers colliding with already crashed vehicles, especially if they are blocking the road or there is a lot of debris. South Carolina law says that drivers should “make every reasonable effort to move any vehicle that is capable of being driven safely off the roadway” to avoid blocking the flow of traffic.

If no one was seriously injured during the crash and it’s safe to do so, drive your vehicle to the shoulder or side of the road. This not only helps clear the road for other vehicles but also decreases your chances of being involved in a secondary collision.

Our South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Handle Pile-Up Crash Claims

Getting compensation after pile-up collisions can be more complex than getting compensation after a crash involving just two vehicles. That’s because pile-up collisions may have multiple at-fault parties, including the drivers who initially caused them and the drivers who crashed into the victims.

If you’re injured in a pile-up crash, Joye Law Firm is here to help. We know what it takes to investigate and win pile-up crash claims, and we want to help you get the money you’re owed. Contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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