Jill Kolodner | March 31, 2021 | Car Accidents
Tailgating is annoying and dangerous. It can signify careless or aggressive driving. In either case, a tailgater places themselves and others at risk of a rear-end collision.
Rear-end collisions can result in whiplash, back injuries, and facial injuries when occupants of both cars whip forward and backward in a crash. But you can take steps to avoid the recklessness of tailgaters, reducing your chances of having a rear-end collision.
Here are some facts about the ways that tailgating can cause car accidents, along with a few tips for stopping tailgaters.
Tailgating occurs when a rear vehicle follows a front vehicle too closely relative to its speed. At any speed, there is a safe distance in which a rear vehicle has enough time to stop without hitting the car in front of it.
For example, as many drivers learn in driver’s education courses, a three-second gap between your vehicle’s front bumper and the back bumper of the vehicle ahead of you is sufficient for many driving situations.
At 65 miles per hour, your vehicle covers over 95 feet per second. To leave a three-second gap, you must be nearly 300 feet behind the vehicle in front of you. Any closer and your vehicle is tailgating.
Causes of Tailgating
Tailgating occurs for a few reasons:
Aggressive drivers tailgate. A driver may do this for many reasons, but impatience probably tops the list. Impatient drivers may tailgate to push the car in front of them to go faster.
When driving in poor weather or on slick roads, the three-second rule may not leave enough time to stop adequately. In difficult weather conditions, even a three-second gap might qualify as tailgating.
Distracted or Careless Driving
Some drivers simply become complacent about the gap that they leave with other vehicles. The gap may also shrink when drivers become distracted by their cell phones, road signs, or conversations with passengers.
Busy roads and stop-and-go traffic can push cars too close together for their speed.
What are the Ways to Stop Tailgaters?
It may seem counterintuitive that you can stop someone from tailgating you. But you can take steps to reduce tailgating. This includes taking defensive actions like:
Allowing Others to Pass
You should stay to the right side of the road except to pass or turn left. By using the left lane as a travel lane, you provoke drivers to tailgate when they want to pass.
Try to travel at the speed limit. If your vehicle cannot travel at the speed limit due to problems or poor conditions, move to the right and use your emergency flashers. This will signal to other drivers you cannot travel faster, and they can pass you. If drivers can go around you, they are less likely to tailgate.
Can a Driver be Held Liable for Tailgating?
Tailgating may constitute negligence. All drivers have a duty to other drivers to operate their vehicles safely and reasonably carefully to avoid accidents. Tailgating may violate that duty. Consequently, tailgaters risk financial liability for the rear-end collisions that they cause.
If a tailgater hit you, you should be able to work with your lawyer to establish that tailgating was the cause of your accident. Since Maryland is an at-fault state, this will enable you to pursue both the tailgater and their insurer for the damages incurred from the accident.
You may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss whether a tailgater may be liable for your accident.