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Tailgating Creates a Dangerous Risk of Car Accidents

May 27, 2011

Tailgating is a contributing factor in more than one-third of all auto accidents on our roadways according to research by the Highways Agency. By following too closely, it decreases the amount of time that a driver has to react in the event of a problem.

There are a few ways tailgating can get you in trouble:

  • There is less time to react in the event of a problem.
  • There is less time for braking so you may rear-end the car in front of you when it stops suddenly.
  • If a lot of drivers are tailgating and one crashes, they can cause all the other drivers to crash.
  • It is difficult to see up ahead beyond the vehicle that a driver is tailgating.
  • It can irritate the other driver and instigate a road rage situation.

Tailgating is interesting from a psychological standpoint. A driver often focuses on defending the space between his vehicle and the driver in front of him compromising his awareness of the environment around him. In some sense, this behavior may give the tailgating driver some false sense of control. What the tailgating driver may fail to recognize is that he has less control in the situation because he cannot see ahead of the other vehicle. By staying back and being able to see and anticipate potential problems, he can actually gain more control over the situation.

Avoiding Tailgating Accidents

There are timing rules that have been suggested by many authorities to help drivers avoid tailgating accidents. Timing was used because it is difficult for a driver in a car to determine distances while on the road.

  • Two Second Rule: If the road conditions are normal, dry and clear, then a driver should maintain a count of at least two seconds between him and the car in front of him. The best way to gauge this is when the car in front passes a traffic sign, simply count to two before passing the sign with your car.
  • Four Second Rule: When the roads are wet and slippery from rain, then this leaves more time to react.
  • Ten Second Rule: When the roads are icy and snowy, more time is needed than at any other time.

Of course these are just general guides- more distance is better. Another good rule to follow is to leave more distance between your vehicle and larger vehicles like trucks, and also motorcycles. It is also advisable to slow down and drive the speed limit. If someone is going too slowly in front of you, then be patient and wait for a safe time to pass.

Tailgating typically does not lead to a good result. One or both drivers normally get annoyed and even angry and can do all sorts of impulsive things. Some drivers might slam their brakes on or tap their brakes to get the other driver off their tail. If the guy in back isn't prepared for this, then an accident can occur and involve other cars as well.

Some drivers pass to get around a slow driver after tailgating them, only to find the driver then starts tailgating them, "to teach them a lesson". This kind of behavior can also escalate causing one or both drivers to speed up and possibly even start maneuvering through traffic in a haphazard manner.

If you have been injured in a car accident that was caused by someone else tailgating, then call us to see how we might be able to help. Our experienced Georgia auto accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.
Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.