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How can tailgating lead to car accidents on the road?

On Behalf of | Oct 23, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

One dangerous driving behavior that frequently contributes to road accidents is tailgating. Oftentimes, drivers who tailgate may be experiencing frustration, impatience or even road rage. The desire to reach their destination quickly can lead to reckless driving behavior.

Tailgating, which involves driving too closely to the vehicle in front of a particular motorist, poses significant risks to both the tailgater and the driver being tailgated.

The dangers of tailgating

One of the most apparent dangers of tailgating is that it significantly reduces the reaction time of a tailgater. When a driver follows another vehicle too closely, they will have minimal time to react if the vehicle in front suddenly brakes or encounters an obstacle. This reduced reaction time can result in rear-end collisions, common in tailgating scenarios.

Tailgating also substantially increases the risk of accidents. When a tailgater is too close to the vehicle in front of them, any sudden stop or maneuver can lead to a collision. This endangers not only the tailgater but also the driver being tailgated. Not to mention that when a vehicle is too close to the one it is following, a tailgater’s field of vision becomes particularly limited. This makes it difficult to anticipate changes in traffic flow or obstacles on the road, further increasing the likelihood of an accident.

Tailgating can trigger chain reactions in traffic. If a tailgater rear-ends the vehicle in front of them due to reduced reaction time, this situation can lead to a domino effect of collisions involving other vehicles. This is why tailgating is a primary factor in so many multi-car pile-ups.

Preventing tailgating

Maintaining a safe following distance is one of the best ways to help prevent tailgating accidents. The general rule is to stay at least one car length away for every ten miles per hour you are driving. For example, if you are traveling 60 miles per hour, you should be six car lengths behind the vehicle in front.

Practicing defensive driving techniques can also help you avoid tailgaters. This includes:

  • Staying in the right lane whenever possible
  • Using turn signals
  • Avoiding aggressive driving behaviors

If you are being tailgated by another vehicle, remaining calm is crucial. Avoid engaging with the aggressive driver, and don’t brake check them, as this can escalate the situation. Instead, change lanes when it’s safe and let the tailgater pass.

It’s important to remember that safe and responsible driving falls on every driver on the road. As such, you can generally hold tailgaters accountable if their aggressive behavior on the road inspires an injurious accident.