Tailgating is one of the leading causes of car crashes in the United States, accounting for one-third of all motor vehicle accidents. It usually causes rear-end collisions, which result in severe injuries and in some cases, death.
This proves that tailgating is a serious mistake that many drivers on U.S. roads make. Tailgating puts the tailgater and other drivers at risk. In this article, we explore the reason why drivers tailgate, how this aggressive driving habit causes motor vehicle crashes, and how you can protect yourself from tailgating drivers.
If you or anyone you know has recently suffered a tailgating accident, you can speak to a San Antonio lawyer and get the help you need.
What is Tailgating?
One of the fundamental rules of operating a motor vehicle is to drive at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. At the very least, drivers should be 4 seconds away from the vehicle in front of them in order to give them enough time to react should the leading vehicle slow down or stop abruptly.
Tailgating occurs when a car follows another too closely, disregarding the 3-second rule and failing to maintain a safe distance. Should the vehicle ahead hit the brakes, the car riding up on its tail won’t have enough opportunity to slow down or stop, thereby causing a rear-end collision.
Why Drivers Tailgate
Tailgating is an aggressive driving habit seen in impatient or impulsive drivers. Those likely to tailgate are also the same drivers who honk their horns at the slightest inconvenience, change lanes without signaling, and disregard speed limits.
They drive recklessly and with complete disregard for road safety, either because they have a:
- Mindset of self-importance. Drivers who are running late, for example, may feel that they have a valid reason to inconvenience or endanger other drivers — simply because of the mindset that their needs are more important than others.
- False sense of security. Drivers who feel that they are skilled in operating a motor vehicle falsely see themselves as indestructible or very much capable of avoiding a crash.
There may also be tailgaters who are simply distracted or careless, not knowing that they’re within dangerous following distance of the vehicle in front of them.
How Tailgating Causes Car Accidents
Every split-second counts when it comes to avoiding a car crash — it can spell the difference between safely maneuvering out of an accident or being involved in a deadly collision.
Tailgating is dangerous because it reduces the crucial time that drivers have to react to danger and eliminates any room for them to slow down or stop safely. As a result, rear-end crashes are more likely to occur and can sometimes even cause a chain-reaction collision that involves multiple cars.
Rear-end collisions may seem less dangerous than other motor vehicle crashes, but they are responsible for severe injuries and death. Even a low-speed rear-end crash can result in whiplash and traumatic brain injuries that can be fatal.
How to Avoid a Tailgating Accident
Being tailgated can be incredibly frustrating, leading to road rage that makes the situation even more dangerous. Some drivers being tailgated try to hit the brakes abruptly in an attempt to get the tailgating vehicle to back off. But this can do more harm than good.
When being tailgated, the best thing that front drivers can do is to avoid the situation altogether. After all, there’s nothing they can do at that moment to change the aggressive behavior of the other driver. The only thing they can do is control how they react to it.
To avoid a tailgating accident:
- Do not “brake check”: Brake checking occurs when the front driver holds the brakes in an attempt to scare or fend off the tailgater. But this can escalate the situation and lead to an imminent crash.
- Change lanes: If possible and at the safest opportunity, front drivers can change lanes to let the tailgater pass. This effectively removes them from the dangerous situation.
- Practice defensive driving: From obeying the speed limit to keeping up with the flow of traffic, defensive driving practices can go a long way in keeping tailgaters off.
Filing a Claim for a Tailgating Accident
If you have been hit by a tailgating driver, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages and injuries that you sustained. Contact our car accident attorneys to help you file your claim and navigate your case.