How Tailgating Causes Accidents and How To Stop It
Rear-end collisions accounted for about one-third of all accidents in 2018. There were over 2.17 million rear-end crashes, which included 2,439 fatal accidents and 594,000 injury accidents. Many rear-end car accidents are caused by tailgating.
Tailgating or following too closely reduces the time a driver has to stop before colliding with the car in front. The size and weight of a car are factors in stopping distance. Road and weather conditions can also be factors in stopping distance.
Whenever a driver follows another vehicle too closely, the driver increases the risk of a tailgating accident.
Common causes of tailgating include:
- Distractions while driving
- Aggressive driving
- Road rage
- Driver fatigue
- Heavy traffic or congested traffic
- Cutting off other drivers (improper lane changes)
- Failing to recognize the risk of tailgating
The most serious consequence of tailgating is causing a traffic accident. Rear-end collisions can cause catastrophic injuries for the occupants in both vehicles. In some cases, a rear-end crash can cause a chain reaction accident that involves multiple vehicles.
Injuries Caused by Tailgating Accidents
The injuries caused by tailgating can range from minor bumps and bruises to traumatic injuries. Rear-end impacts are often referred to as “fender benders.” The name downplays the seriousness of these crashes.
Injuries that people sustain in tailgating accidents include, but are not limited to:
- Whiplash and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries and head injuries
- Broken bones
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Seatbelt and airbag injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Facial injuries
If you are injured in a tailgating accident, you may have a legal claim against the other driver. A car accident lawyer can review your claim, explain your legal rights, and review options for recovering compensation for your damages. Damages from a tailgating accident could include lost wages, medical expenses, permanent impairments, and other damages.
Can You Avoid a Tailgating Accident?
Yes, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk of a tailgating accident. The Texas Driver Handbook recommends at least two seconds between you and the car in front of you if you are traveling 30 mph or less. If you are traveling over 30 mph, increase the time to four seconds.
However, those recommendations are for passenger vehicles during good weather conditions and road conditions. Drivers need to adjust their following distance for different conditions. If it is raining, foggy, or the road conditions are dangerous, you need to give yourself additional time to stop to avoid a collision.
Inexperienced drivers may want to allow extra distance between their car and the car in front of them. Allowing extra distance between your car and the car in front of you can help you avoid a rear-end crash in good driving conditions.
Ways you can avoid a tailgating accident include:
- Never drive when you are fatigued or drowsy
- Keep your focus on the road ahead and the task of driving
- Never drive when impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Read the warnings for over-the-counter and prescription medications that could make you drowsy or impair your driving abilities
- Slow down in poor weather conditions, congested traffic, work zones, and other hazardous driving conditions
If you rear-end another vehicle, you may be personally liable for damages caused by the accident. When insurance coverage does not pay the full value of a car accident claim, the accident victims could sue you for damages.
What Can You Do if Another Driver is Following Your Vehicle Too Closely?
You cannot control what another driver might do behind the wheel. If another driver is tailgating you, try to remain calm. If you can safely change lanes, do so to allow the other driver to pass you.
If you cannot change lanes, turn at the first safe location to allow the driver to pass. It may add a few minutes to your trip, but it is preferable to being injured by an aggressive or negligent driver.
Do not tap your brakes to “warn” the other driver to stop tailgating. You should also avoid suddenly stopping because you are irritated by a driver who is tailgating. Brake checks or suddenly slamming on the brakes could result in a car accident.
Also, do not give in to the feeling that you need to drive faster if someone is tailgating you. Increasing your speed may put you in danger, and it is likely to result in the other driver increasing speed instead of backing off. Instead, consider pulling over or turning off the road to allow the driver to pass you.
If you cannot pull over or turn, you can call 911 if you feel threatened or in danger. The operator may dispatch a police unit or may give you additional instructions, depending on the circumstances. In any situation, taunting or confronting a driver who is tailgating can be dangerous.