Dangers of Tailgating and Liability When Following Too Closely Causes an Accident
We’ve all been in a tailgating situation, and if we’re honest, most of us have been on both sides of the equation. Tailgating occurs when you follow a car too closely to stop completely in response to changing road and traffic conditions. In fact, following too closely is a very common cause of Virginia accidents.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a tailgating accident, let Pack Law Group help. Call us at 540-586-7225 to schedule a consultation right away.
Why You Should Never Follow Too Closely
Following too closely is easily one of the most dangerous habits you can develop as a driver. Drivers tend to underestimate just how much time and distance they need to stop at different speeds. For example, if you are driving below 35 miles per hour in good weather, you need two seconds to brake and get away from something on the road. When you reach 70 miles per hour, you need at least four seconds. That is not a lot of time, particularly if you are following the car behind you too closely when they brake.
Tailgating is always dangerous and should be avoided on any type of road, but it is particularly dangerous in certain conditions. When it is rainy, snowy, or icy outside, you must give yourself significantly more following room than you would in good weather. Tailgating in these conditions can leave you with no time at all to respond when the driver in front of you hits the brakes.
It is also important to avoid tailgating on highways. Unfortunately, this is also where tailgating is most common. The faster you are driving, the more space you need to stop safely. Consequently, you should leave more space on the highway—not less.
Avoiding the Urge to Tailgate
The need to tailgate typically comes from road rage or irritation at those sharing the road with you. Yes, the driver in front of you might be driving below the speed limit. Instead of tailgating, drop back and wait for an opportunity to pass.
Habit is another reason people tailgate. If you’ve just always driven this away, it is hard to realize that you are driving in an unsafe manner. The only way to break a habit is to be consciously aware of it every time you drive. As you force yourself to leave proper stopping distance between your car and other vehicles, that will become your new habit instead.
Liability in Tailgating Accidents
In the majority of tailgating accidents, the rear car (the one that initiates contact) is liable and must pay compensation for the damage they have caused. This is because tailgating is against the law and is simply unsafe. As a driver, you have an obligation to everyone else on the road to be safe and minimize the risk of accidents. Tailgating is a violation of that obligation. Even if you only rear ended the person in front of you because your car slid or you were momentarily distracted, you will still likely be liable.
There are some exceptions to the general rules, however. If the driver in front was aware of your tailgating and tried to get you to stop by slamming on the brakes, they may have some or all of the liability in the accident. The same may be true if the front driver cut off the rear driver and did not leave them enough room to stop safely.
Protecting Yourself Against a Tailgating Accident
If you fear a tailgating accident because someone is following you too closely, stay calm and avoid making rash decisions. It is common to be afraid in this situation, since the driver behind you has already shown disregard for your safety and may also be trying to intimidate you.
Ignore them, do not look at them or engage them, and continue driving safely. If possible, scoot one lane to the right to allow them to pass. If they will not let up, consider taking the next exit or turning off the road to reroute and get away from the aggressive driver.
Find Out How Pack Law Group Can Help with Your Tailgating Accident
Tailgating is dangerous, and victims of these accidents may be entitled to compensation. If you have been injured by a tailgater, let the team at Pack Law Group help. Call us at 540-586-7225 or reach out online to set up a free consultation and case assessment.