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Tailgating: How This Dangerous Habit Causes Accidents and How To Stop It

Rear-end accidents are one of the most common types of car accidents. According to the NHTSA, rear-end collisions accounted for approximately one-third of car accidents in 2018. There were over 2.1 million rear-impact accidents that year, which resulted in 2,439 fatal crashes and 594,000 injury crashes.

Tailgating is one of the most common causes of rear-end crashes. Fortunately, tailgating is a driving behavior that can be avoided. 

What is Tailgating?

Tailgating is a term commonly used for the traffic offense of following too closely. Following too closely is defined as driving behind another vehicle more closely than is prudent and reasonable, given the vehicle’s speed, traffic conditions, and roadway conditions.

It is up to the driver to determine what is considered a safe driving distance, given the current conditions. For example, during periods of inclement weather, a driver may need to increase the following distance to allow enough time to stop the vehicle to avoid a crash. 

When a driver follows too closely and causes a car accident, that driver can be held liable for any damages caused by the accident. Damages include property damage claims and personal injury claims. Compensation for a personal injury claim might include:

  • The cost of medical treatment and care
  • Personal care costs and in-home health care
  • Loss of salaries, wages, benefits, and other income
  • Decreases in earning potential because of permanent impairments
  • Disabilities, scarring, disfigurement, and permanent impairments
  • Emotional and mental trauma and distress
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life

The amount of compensation you might receive for a rear-end accident claim depends on the facts of your case. You must prove that the other driver caused the crash to recover compensation. A car accident attorney can help you review your options for recovering maximum compensation for your car personal injury claim.

Why Do People Tailgate?

Tailgating is a dangerous driving behavior that can cause catastrophic injuries and fatalities. People engage in this driving behavior for a variety of reasons. 

Some of the most common reasons for tailgating include:

Distracted Driving

Distracted drivers may not notice that traffic has slowed or stopped ahead or that a driver slowed down to turn. By the time the driver realizes the vehicle in front of him has slowed down or stopped, it might be too late to avoid a rear-end collision. Common driving distractions include using a cell phone, texting while driving, eating, grooming, reaching for objects, daydreaming, and taking care of children.

Road Rage

Aggressive driving or road rage is another common cause of tailgating. A driver may be aggravated because there is traffic, and he cannot get around slower moving vehicles. The driver might be angry about something else and decides to take his anger out on other drivers. 

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as impaired driving. If a driver is fatigued or drowsy, he may not be aware that he is following too closely until an accident happens.

Impaired Driving

A driver who is intoxicated may not have the ability to judge distance correctly. The result may be a DUI accident resulting from tailgating.

Being in a Rush

Drivers who are in a hurry to get somewhere because they are running late or they are impatient are often guilty of tailgating. They believe if they “ride the bumper” of the person in front of them, that they will encourage the driver to speed up or move out of the way.

Inexperienced Drivers

Teen drivers may not understand the dangers of tailgating. They may misjudge the distance it takes to stop while traveling at different speeds and under different road or weather conditions.

Can You Prevent a Tailgating Accident?

The good news is that almost all tailgating accidents could be avoided if drivers keep a few essential rules in mind.

Some tips to keep in mind include:

  • Always leave early enough to allow for heavy traffic condition or other delays
  • Allow for a safe driving distance during all driving conditions
  • Reduce speed when driving in rainy, snowy, or foggy weather
  • If someone is tailgating your vehicle, move into another lane or turn off
  • Do not hit your brakes or “brake check” a driver who is tailgating your vehicle

Never engage a driver who is tailgating your vehicle. It is best to move out of the driver’s way as soon as possible. Engaging a driver who is following too closely could result in an incident of road rage.

If you feel threatened or cannot pull over safely, you can also call 911 for assistance if another driver is tailgating or threatening you on the road.

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