The Negative Impact of Tailgating

Tuesday August 9, 2022

Tailgating can have negative impacts on all drivers sharing the road. Find out what tailgating is, why drivers do it, and the risks involved. If you have been involved in a tailgating accident, find out your legal options and who you can turn to for help.

What Is Tailgating?

Tailgating is one of the most irritating practices on the road. Even if you do not know it by name, you have almost certainly experienced being tailgated by another driver. Tailgate driving consists of one car closely following the car in front. 

By definition, a tailgater is following more closely than the law or general safety allows. However, many state statutes do not use the term tailgating. In Connecticut and many other states, the allowable distance by law is not laid out in explicit terms. Instead, the Connecticut statute emphasizes keeping a reasonable, prudent, and sufficient distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you with regard to speed, traffic, and other conditions.

Of course, while driving it can be challenging to determine what a reasonable and prudent distance may be. Drivers can use the two-second rule to help determine a reasonable distance. The two-second rule suggests drivers should allow the car in front to pass a stationary reference object, like a sign, then count two seconds. If the driver counts two seconds before reaching the marker, they are traveling too closely. If the driving conditions are poor, adding an extra second or two may be advisable.  

Why Do People Tailgate Vehicles?

People tailgate for various reasons, from wanting you to drive faster to simple distraction. However, two of the most prevalent reasons for tailgating may be road rage or preparation for passing and reduced wind resistance for larger vehicles.

Road Rage or Preparing To Pass in Another Lane

Drivers sometimes experience road rage for seemingly insignificant reasons. Maybe they think you are driving too fast or too slow. When a driver gets angry at another driver for driving too slow or clogging up the passing lane, they may resort to tailgating. It could be that they believe their tailgating will encourage you to speed up or to switch lanes so they may pass and continue to travel at an increased rate of speed. 

Other times, they may attempt to switch lanes if traffic is congested. Perhaps they have an exit or turn coming up, and they are afraid they will miss it if they cannot merge in time. Sometimes drivers tailgate to gain a few more feet before they cut in front of another car or engage in other risky lane-changing maneuvers. Regardless of the excuse for tailgating vehicles, it can be a dangerous practice and can result in tailgating accidents, injuries, and even death.

Reduced Wind Resistance for Larger Vehicles

In the case of larger, heavy vehicles like SUVs and 18-wheelers, reduced wind resistance may play a factor in tailgating driving. Traveling closely to the vehicle in front of you can reduce the wind resistance for your vehicle. However, the savings in fuel are probably less than the driver realizes. Even if the savings were substantial, the elevated dangers of tailgating while driving do not rationalize the trade-off. 

What Are the Dangers of Tailgating?

No matter the reason for tailgating, it is a risky driving habit most people have engaged in. There are many dangers associated with tailgating, including decreased vision, shorter braking time, and increased risks of accidents. These dangers become even riskier when tailgating during inclement weather.

Decreased Vision Compared to Driving at a Safe Distance

Tailgating decreases the driver's vision compared to when they keep a safe distance. When a driver is closer to the leading vehicle, their range of vision may not take in all the hazards around them and coming up on the road. Following another vehicle too closely means the driver can not see the road ahead. This leads to a decreased reaction time if the leading driver must brake suddenly or if traffic suddenly changes.

If you can only see the back of the vehicle rather than the road ahead, you may not see vital warning signs, like a detour, upcoming accident, or objects on the road. An accident becomes more likely if the driver does not have adequate time to prepare for these events.

Less Braking Abilities, Especially With Poor Road Conditions

When a driver is tailgating, they have less braking ability. This causes a reduction in their possible reaction time before causing an accident. Even on a dry road, this can be a severe danger. However, the risks multiply when a driver chooses to negligently tailgate another driver on a wet or icy road or at night. In any event, drivers should avoid tailgating even in the best roadway conditions.

When road conditions are poor, drivers of all experience levels and abilities benefit from extra braking time. Tailgating dramatically reduces the driver's reaction time and can increase the risk of causing or contributing to a serious auto accident.

Increased Chances of Causing a Major Auto Accident

When drivers engage in tailgating, they significantly increase their chances of causing a major car accident. One reason behind this is due to the driver's reduced stopping distance. They give themselves much less distance to safely stop their car before crashing into the vehicle they are closely tailing. A vehicle's stopping distance is closely tied to its speed, weight, and size. The faster the vehicle is traveling, the faster the vehicle must stop if the lead vehicle slows or brakes. Likewise, large vehicles like commercial trucks have a much greater stopping distance than a passenger car traveling at the same speed. It can take the larger vehicle up to twice the distance to stop compared to an average car. 

Have You Experienced an Accident After Being Tailgated? Here's What to Do

If you were involved in an accident with a tailgating driver, you might wonder what to do next. The best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced tailgating attorney about your rights and legal options. The auto accident lawyers at Kennedy Johnson Schwab & Roberge can help. They will listen to your case, answer your questions, and carefully explain your options in clear, non-technical language. Contact us today to speak with a skilled Connecticut tailgating and motor vehicle accident lawyer.

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At Kennedy, Johnson, Schwab & Roberge, L.L.C., we handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not get paid unless and until you receive a settlement or a jury award.

Schedule a free, confidential consultation with a skilled Connecticut personal injury lawyer today.

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