Tailgating Driving: Why it’s Dangerous and How to Avoid it
Have you ever been in such a rush to get somewhere that you drove a little too close to the car in front of you? Or maybe someone flashed their brights at you, eager to get home, and you see that their car is right behind yours. This is tailgating driving—not to be confused with tailgating parties. These are typically social events, which take place in backs of parked cars at sporting events or concerts. Tailgating parties are not illegal. However, tailgating driving can be illegal and punishable by a fine.
When someone is driving behind someone too closely, they increase the risk of an auto accident. There are many reasons for tailgating, but whatever the reason, it’s always dangerous.
What is Tailgating?
Tailgating is when a driver drives behind another vehicle without leaving a safe distance in between. Drivers must leave a sufficient distance between their car and the car in front. If there is too short a distance between the cars, they could cause a collision if the vehicle in front stops suddenly. When you suddenly slam on the brakes, it can take much longer for your car to stop than you’d think.
A safe distance depends on vehicle speed, weather, visibility, road hazards, and other factors.
Some jurisdictions only consider a specific distance or time interval as a safe distance. Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles suggests a “four-second rule”. To calculate this, start counting “one thousand one” when the rear of a vehicle ahead passes a fixed point, such as a sign. If you reach the sign before you have counted “one thousand four,” you are following too closely.
Types of Tailgating Driving
- Distracted Drivers – This type of tailgating driver doesn’t realize they are tailgating. Perhaps they are engrossed in a radio program, changing podcasts on their iPhone, or talking to someone on the phone. Their mind is too preoccupied to notice that they are dangerously close to the driver in front of them.
- Ignorant Drivers – This driver doesn’t realize the danger of tailgating. They tailgate because they don’t know that being too close to the car in front of you is unsafe. If the car in front unexpectedly brakes, you could wind up in a rear-end collision.
- Unaware Drivers – This driver thinks they are being safe. But they are unaware that they’re actually a little too close to the car in front of them. Maybe they are on autopilot because they’ve been driving this same route for years. They have a false sense of safety and don’t pay attention to following distances.
- Complacent Drivers – This type of tailgating driver knows full well that tailgating is dangerous, but they do it anyway. Perhaps they’ve never been in an accident, so they continue to tailgate.
- Aggressive Drivers – The aggressive tailgater uses tailgating as a bullying tactic to intimidate the driver in front of them. Or they’re trying to make that driver move out of their way. Sometimes this kind of tailgating could be considered road rage. The driver in front might not want to comply with the aggressive tailgater. They don’t want to break the law by going faster than the posted speed limit, or they can’t change lanes safely.
Tailgating by the Numbers
- 23% of all motor vehicle crashes per year are rear-end collisions according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- 2,000 deaths caused by rear end collisions every year (NHTSA)
- 950,000 injuries caused by rear end collisions every year (NHTSA)
- 74% of drivers said they were tailgated in the last 6 months according to a Michelin report
- 47% of drivers said they do not know the recommended safe driving distance (Michelin)
Considering these tailgating facts and figures, you now know why tailgating can be dangerous. If you’ve been the victim in a tailgating accident, you’ll need an experienced car accident lawyer. We encourage you to call Anthem Injury Lawyers at (702) 857-6000. Don’t go it alone – to receive the best chance at maximum compensation, let our Las Vegas car accident lawyers represent you. Call today.
Why Do Drivers Tailgate?
There are many reasons drivers might tailgate. Most of the time a driver tailgates to get the driver in front of them to drive faster. A frustrated driver might tailgate to overtake the lane. Sometimes a tailgating driver is trying to block other cars from merging into their lane. In some cases, a driver tailgates to get a fuel economy advantage. This technique is called “slip-streaming”. It requires the driver to turn off the engine and glide into neutral while tailgating a larger vehicle. In more extreme cases, a driver might tailgate due to road rage.
However, all of these examples are dangerous. If a driver is tailgating you and you have to make a sudden stop, they could cause a rear-end collision. You can’t control what other drivers do on the road, but you can take these steps to protect yourself from tailgating drivers.
Is Tailgating Illegal?
The short answer is yes, tailgating is considered illegal in most US states. However, proving that another driver is tailgating you can be complicated.
Since most state laws don’t specify a standard safe distance between two vehicles, tailgating can be open to interpretation. Tailgating is rarely enforced, even though tailgating drivers can get ticketed and fined.
Tips to Avoid Tailgating
Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of auto accidents. Use these tips to safely avoid tailgating and unnecessary car crashes.
- Use the four-second rule. Start counting when the rear bumper of the car in front of you passes an object, like a street sign. Your bumper should not pass that same object until you’ve reached at least four seconds.
- If driving conditions are particularly bad, like wet or icy roads, use an even longer following distance.
- Maintain a safe speed at all times. Avoid the temptation to speed up when you have someone tailgating you. Maintaining a safe and consistent speed allows faster drivers to pass you.
- Use extra caution when approaching intersections, stop lights, and changing lanes.
- Leave a greater buffer between you and the car in front of you if you are being tailgated. If the car in front is bigger like a truck, leave an even greater buffer.
- If you are being tailgated, find a safe way to allow the car behind you to pass. If you can, pull over by the side of the road or change lanes.
- Do not antagonize a tailgating driver by braking or driving more slowly.
- Stay calm. Some tailgating drivers can be aggressive and scary. Try to remain calm when dealing with this type of driver so that you can make safe and informed decisions.
- Stay to the right. Slower traffic keeps to the right. If you drive in the right lane, then you can avoid most tailgaters.
- Avoid the temptation to pursue the car in front of you. If you are feeling impatient, safely change lanes when you get a chance.
Experienced Las Vegas Car Accident Attorneys
If you were involved in an auto accident due to a tailgating driver in the State of Nevada, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney who is licensed in Nevada as soon as possible. The law firm of Anthem Injury Lawyers has a dedicated team of car accident lawyers and staff who are ready to help you with your car accident case. Understandably, you may have sought general car accident information, to try and understand your odds of winning your case, and there is a lot of well-meaning legal advice out there from friends and on the Internet. While this may be informative, it is no substitute for consulting with experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyers. Our attorneys offer years of experience representing car accident victims. Get in touch with us today to schedule a free case review.
Anthem Injury Lawyers invites you to schedule an appointment with us to discuss your case.
We offer free case evaluations. Our office is conveniently located in Henderson, but we work with clients all over the Las Vegas Valley, including North Las Vegas, Summerlin, Spring Valley, Anthem, and the Strip. Contact us today for a free consultation at (702) 857-6000.