The Dangers of Tailgating and How to Avoid It

No one likes to be tailgated, yet millions of people do it every day. Some do it because they are running late or impatient, while others tailgate out of spite or "road rage." Still others follow too closely out of sheer ignorance of its dangers.

Tailgating is by far one of the most dangerous habits a driver can pick up. According to a study from Drivecam, Inc., a global driver risk management company, drivers are at the highest risk of rear-ending a vehicle when they are following less than 2 seconds behind the vehicle in front of them. When drivers have to stop abruptly, tailgaters are often left with little or no time to brake. Following too closely to the vehicle in front of you is asking for trouble, but fortunately there are some ways you can avoid a tailgating accident.

If you are guilty of tailgating:

Keep a safe driving distance between you and the car in front of you. How do you know what a safe distance is? Simply make it a point to put at least 10 feet per each 10 mph between you and the car in front of you. So if you are driving 45 mph, a safe driving distance would be about 40 feet. Driving at a higher rate of speed — say 70mph — would require a greater distance of at least 70 feet. Another way of calculating a safe driving distance is by traveling at least 3 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. In other words, once the back of the vehicle you are following passes a marker, it should take at least 3 seconds for the front of your vehicle to reach the same marker. Double this distance during adverse driving conditions, such as fog or rain.

If you are being tailgated:

If you are being tailgated by an irresponsible driver, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chance of being rear-ended. Keep in mind that most tailgaters are impatient and may simply wish to get around slower-moving traffic on the roadways. If possible, move to a different lane and allow a tailgater to pass. If that is not possible, maintain the speed limit and leave more than enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. You can also avoid tailgaters by driving in the right-hand lane of traffic, using the left lane only for passing.