When a driver crowds the vehicle in front of them, it can be a nerve-wracking experience for others that share the road with them. Aggressive drivers may use tailgating to intimidate other drivers. Distractions can cause speeding drivers to pull up too quickly. Commercial vehicles may be unable to slow before coming too close to your car. No matter what the cause, these tailgating behaviors put your safety at risk.
Tailgating can have a variety of causes.
As the National Safety Council notes, there are several causes of tailgating. Distracted drivers—especially drivers who are distracted by smartphones—can easily pull too close to a vehicle while their eyes or thoughts are not on the road. People may be ignorant of the dangers that tailgating poses or become complacent because of their driving history or the commonality of tailgating. Aggressive drivers may use tailgating to get other drivers to move or to pass other vehicles quickly.
Tailgating can result in serious accidents.
No matter the cause, failure to maintain a safe following distance can put you and others at risk. Tailgating can make it difficult to stop if the vehicle in front needs to stop, slow or pull over to avoid a hazard. Most cars and trucks need more than 100 feet to stop when driving at highway speeds, and semi-trucks need almost 200, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In rain, fog, snow or other inclement weather, these distances need to be even higher.
Failure to keep a safe following distance causes rear-end collisions, and at least 5% of collisions with semi-trucks are a result of improper follow distance. These accidents can result in broken bones, whiplash, spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries and even death.
While defensive driving can help protect you from tailgating drivers, it cannot prevent all accidents. If you were in a crash, it is possible to take legal action against other drivers and to hold them responsible for their part in your accident.