Following another vehicle too closely, also known as tailgating, is a bad idea for many reasons. When a driver tailgates, they cannot stop in time when the person in front of them brakes or turns. An aggressive tailgater may distract or frighten the driver ahead of them, increasing the chances of an accident. If you were struck by a tailgater, you could pursue compensation for damages you incurred as a result. Contact a car accident attorney to learn more about your options to bring an insurance claim or lawsuit.
What Is Considered Tailgating?
Tailgating occurs when a vehicle operator purposely drives their vehicle very close to the car in front of them. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), standard passenger vehicles take approximately 5 seconds to stop when driving at 55 miles per hour. Therefore, between the driver’s reaction time and the time it takes for the vehicle to stop, a vehicle traveling at 55 mph may need more than 300 feet to stop. The distance may be farther if the road is slippery, the vehicle is heavy, or the driver’s reaction time is slow.
When a driver tailgates, there is insufficient space to stop when the person in front of them stops. The result is often a high-speed rear-end accident that can severely injure the occupants of both vehicles. In fact, NHTSA data indicates that approximately one-third of car crashes in the U.S. are rear-end collisions. In addition, rear-end collisions are the most common cause of injury in vehicle accidents on U.S. roads.
Why Do People Tailgate?
The goal of tailgating is to intimidate or frighten the driver ahead of the tailgater. For example, drivers may tailgate when in a hurry and feel the driver ahead of them is going too slowly. Sometimes, aggressive drivers tailgate to express anger or frustration after a perceived failure to honor driving rules, such as yielding right-of-way or stopping at a traffic signal. Regardless of the reason, tailgating is reckless, dangerous, and illegal.
Dangers Associated With Tailgating
Tailgating is a reckless and aggressive form of driving that places people in both vehicles and the surrounding area at risk. Some of the dangers associated with tailgating include:
Tailgaters Have Insufficient Reaction Time
When a driver tailgates, they purposely drive too close to the vehicle in front of them. Without sufficient space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them, they have no time to stop when the person ahead of them brakes, swerves, or turns. Without time to react, the tailgater is more likely to rear-end the vehicle ahead of them at a higher speed.
High-Speed Collisions Cause More Severe Injuries
The NHTSA reports that approximately 29% of motor vehicle fatalities involve speeding. Many of these speeding incidents also involve aggressive driving, such as tailgating, swerving, and frequent lane changes. The faster a vehicle is going at the moment of impact, the greater the likelihood of injury or fatal injury. At high speeds, even with seat belts and airbags, the impact on vehicle occupants is much greater.
Tailgating Contributes to Distracted Driving
When someone is tailgating you, it can be difficult to focus on the road ahead. You may be too distracted to see other vehicles, bikers, and pedestrians who appear on the road. As a result, your reaction time to hazardous situations could be compromised, and you are more likely to hit another person, vehicle, or object than if you could focus on your surroundings.
Aggressive Driving Leads to More Aggressive Driving
When you are tailgated, you may become angry in response. You may feel the urge to lash out at the person tailgating you, or you might tailgate the person in front of you, hoping they will go faster. More aggression can lead to increasingly dangerous driving behaviors, leading to more accidents.
If you were injured in an accident due to a tailgating or aggressive driver, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact our Las Vegas car accident attorney in your area to learn about your legal rights and options.
What to Do if Someone Tailgates You
If you are dealing with a tailgater or aggressive driver, your safety is paramount. Rather than engaging in aggressive behavior or retaliation, follow these steps:
- If you are not already in the right lane, switch to the right lane so the tailgater can pass.
- If you can do so safely, pull off to the side of the road and allow the aggressive driver to pass you. You can also pull into a gas station, rest stop, or parking area to remove yourself from the situation.
- Wait until you are calm and give the aggressive driver time to get past you before you reenter the roadway.
- If the driver harasses you, follows you, or refuses to pass, call the police for assistance.
If You Are in an Accident Caused by Tailgating
If the tailgating driver hits your vehicle, contact the police right away to report the accident. If you do not feel safe talking to the other driver, most police reports will include the insurance and contact information for the driver. You can use this information to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Avoid making any accusations or confronting the other driver. If you must give a statement to the police or your insurance company, keep your description of events factual and to the point. If it is safe to do so, take photos or videos of the accident scene, including the damage to both vehicles, skid marks, and the vehicles’ final resting places. If there are witnesses, collect their contact information to pass on to your attorney.
To protect your right to compensation after an accident with a tailgater or aggressive driver, contact an attorney as soon as possible. A car accident attorney in your area can help you navigate local laws pertaining to traffic violations, dangerous driving, and negligence. They can also negotiate with the insurance company, file legal paperwork, and represent you in court proceedings.
Hire an Attorney Who Will Fight For Your Rights Against Aggressive Drivers
If you were injured in an accident due to a tailgating driver, you deserve the support of a knowledgeable attorney who will aggressively advocate for your right to fair compensation. Reach out to the Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation and learn how we can help you seek justice for your injuries.