The female driver of a disabled Rav4 SUV was killed on 2/28/14 on westbound Highway 24 near the junction with 580 after being rear-ended by a Lexus at approximately 4:45 a.m. Witnesses reportedly told officers that the disabled vehicle’s lights were not operational immediately prior to the collision.
Collisions with disabled vehicles appears to be a common cause of serious and fatal injuries on San Francisco Bay Area highways, based on the many such cases I have handled on behalf of injured motorists and the families of deceased motorists. The CHP, in their traffic collision reports, usually faults the driver of the vehicle which rear-ended the disabled vehicle, finding that the vehicle to the rear was traveling too fast for conditions and/or too close to the vehicle in front of it. This is so even at night where the disabled vehicle had no lights on.
Such accidents underscore the importance of traveling at reasonable speeds, several car lengths behind the closest vehicle ahead (the faster you are going, the more distance needed), and keeping your eyes peeled for dangers down the road. It is important to keep in mind that it takes time to perceive a threat, more time to react to the threat, and more time for your vehicle to come to a stop once you hit the brakes. All the while, your vehicle can travel quite a distance. It also underscores the importance of keeping your lights on, and seat belt fastened, if your vehicle becomes disabled in the roadway.