You’re on the highway going a few miles over the speed limit trying to make it to a dinner with your family. You notice in your rearview mirror that the truck behind you is following very closely. So, you naturally speed up a bit so he won’t hit you. But, that’s not the end of the story. The truck actually speeds up too, and doesn’t make any attempt to pass you even though there’s clearly space in the other lane to do so. You can’t figure out why he’s doing this, and it makes you nervous to have someone following that closely behind you. You decide to change lanes, and the truck finally gets out of your way.
Does this sound familiar? All too often, people tailgate on the road for whatever reason. Either they have somewhere to be and think that by getting right on other’s tails, they will reach their destination faster, or they just do it out of habit. Whatever the reason, tailgating is never a good idea and here’s a few reasons why:
1. Tailgating Can Cause Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 23 percent of all motor crashes are rear-end collisions, which result in approximately 2,000 deaths and 950,000 injuries per year. With the risk of causing an accident, comes the likelihood of raised insurance rates and a lawsuit that could easily surpass your liability insurance limitations.
If you notice yourself edging too close to another vehicle, just slow down and leave at least a few seconds between yourself and the other vehicle. You may be in a rush to get somewhere, but slowing down a bit and going with the flow of traffic could prevent an accident and even save your life.
2. It Causes Road Rage
According to research by the RAC Foundation, tailgating is actually the main cause of road rage. When people follow a car too closely, the driver of the leading car might be inclined to slam on his or her brakes to get the aggressor to slow down. This, in turn, leads to a smashed bumper, costly repairs, angry drivers, and even injuries or death.
The research also revealed that most road-rage attacks happen in the morning rush-hour, and attackers are likely to be in their 20s and 30s. If you see someone trailing behind you very closely on the way to work, with coffee in one hand and an angry look on their face, you’re best advised to just move into the other lane to let them pass. As tempting as it might be to slam on your brakes and get them to slow down, it’s best for your safety to just get out of their way and stay back.
3. Obstructed View
Following someone too closely can also cause the view up ahead to be blocked by the car directly in front of you. This can be dangerous because there could be a traffic jam up ahead, which would cause the car in front of you to slow down. Since you won’t be able to see the traffic jam, your only warning is the brake lights on the vehicle ahead of you. However, they may not brake until the last minute, which means you will not have much time to react. This is another reason why it’s important to leave some distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
4. Bye Bye Cheap Insurance
It’s also important to understand that if you are involved in an accident due to driving too close to another car, the accident will almost always be considered your fault. Couple this with the fact that causing an accident will always cause your insurance rates to increase considerably and you can see how tailgating can easily sabotage your chances of keeping your car insurance ‘cheap’.
Helpful Timing Rules
It’s not always easy to know how far away to stay from the car in front of you, but you are sure to be safer if you follow these three rules:
Three Second Rule
Under normal driving conditions, such as a dry, clear road, there should be two seconds between you and the car in front of you. You can gauge this by observing when the car in front of you passes a stationary object, like a sign or tree, and then counting the seconds it takes before you reach the same stationary object. You should be able to count to at least three seconds.
Four Second Rule
When it is raining and the road is wet, you should leave four or more seconds between you and the car in front of you.
Ten Second Rule
When roads are icy or snowy, the ten second rule applies. A vehicle will slide exponentially further before it can reach a stop under these conditions. This is why it is highly advised to leave ten seconds between you and other cars when temperatures are below zero.
APIL (Sep 23, 2013) – “A Lesson in Social Graces – tailgating”