Tailgating Accidents

3012777_lOn February 7, 2015, Bruce Jenner was involved in a fatal four car accident. A Prius was stopped or moving very slowly when it was hit by a Lexus. Jenner, who was pulling a loaded trailer, saw the accident and swerved to avoid it, but hit the Lexus. The Lexus veered into oncoming traffic where it was hit head-on by a Hummer. The woman driving the Lexus died at the scene of the accident. There are questions about whether texting while driving was involved and the crash is still being investigated, but it is a clear reminder of the danger of following too closely.

Why Tailgating is so Dangerous

It may sound obvious, but following too closely greatly increases your risk of rear-ending the car in front of you. If the vehicle ahead of you stops or slows down suddenly, you don’t have time to stop. And when you are following so closely, the vehicle in front of you takes up more of your view, making it less likely that you will be able to see and anticipate an obstacle or event that could cause that driver to hit the brakes, or that the vehicle in front of you may slam into causing a chain reaction.

According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials it takes most drivers 2.5 seconds to perceive and react to the need to brake suddenly. When you are following closely, even the briefest distraction can mean that you see and react to events ahead of you too late.

How to Gauge the Proper Amount of Distance

You may be guilty of following too closely and not realize it.

One rule of thumb is to give yourself 10 feet of distance for every 10mph you are driving, under normal driving conditions. So, if you are travelling at 65mph, you should be about 65 feet behind the car in front of you. If the weather or road conditions are not optimal, you should give double the space or even more.

Trying to guess the distance between your car and the car ahead of you in feet is pretty unreliable for most people. Another trick is to gage the distance in seconds. In optimal conditions, give yourself at least 3 to 4 seconds when travelling under 55MPH, and 4 to 5 seconds at highway speeds. Double that, or more, in dangerous weather conditions.

To figure out the distance in seconds, choose a stationary object, such as a light pole or sign, and start counting the seconds when the car ahead of you passes it. When your vehicle is in line with the object, stop counting.

Another thing you must keep in mind is that some vehicles require more stopping distance. A big, heavy truck is going to take longer to stop than a compact car. And if you are pulling a trailer, as Bruce Jenner was when he had his accident, you will need more distance than usual.

What to do if Someone is Tailgating You

So you’ve got your own driving under control, but what do you do about everybody else? Being tailgated is one of the most irritating situations you have to deal with when driving, and it happens a lot. There are some things that you can do to get another driver off your tail, and some things you should never try.

  • Always drive in the right-hand lane except when passing.
  • Use turnouts when available to let the other driver pass.
  • If you’re on a winding road, do not speed up when you reach a passing zone. Maintain a slow enough speed to allow the other driver to pass.
  • Do not tap your brakes to send the other driver a message. That can cause an accident.

Have you or someone that you love been injured in a tailgating accident? You may have a limited amount of time to get help. Discover how easy it can be to find the right accident attorney for you.


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