Rear-end car crashes are some of the most serious, injury-causing collisions experienced on Southwest Florida roadways, and throughout the country.
One of biggest causes of rear-end crashes is tailgating, or driving dangerously close to the vehicle in front of you.
When you consider the wet roads and torrential downpours we experience here in the summer, it is no wonder that tailgating has become a serious problem for drivers. There is not a day that goes by where you don't see someone driving right on the bumper of the car in front of them. If someone behind you is following way too closely, it can be unnerving, and can distract you from keeping your focus on the road ahead of you. (If the person behind you has their high-beam headlights on, that can be even more distracting – but that's a whole different blog.)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 23% of all motor vehicle crashes involve a rear-end impact. This accounts for 2,000 fatalities and almost a million injuries annually. The sad news is that those numbers could be significantly reduced if people would just allow more space between them and the vehicle in front of them.
A car travelling at 60 miles per hour takes about 240 feet to come to a complete stop. If the vehicle is a heavy truck, the time and distance are considerably greater. Initially, a driver needs about 60 feet just to realize they need to hit the brakes. If the driver of the car, truck, or motorcycle in front of you reacts just a millisecond quicker than you do, you're going to hit it.
The irony of the situation surrounding tailgaters is that a study conducted by the Michelin Tire Company found that 74% of drivers said that they have been tailgated by someone driving behind them – but only 11% actually admitted to tailgating.
How to Avoid Being a Tailgater
There are some things a driver can do to make sure they leave ample room between them and the car in front of them.
Ideally, you should allow about 10 feet of distance per every 10 mile per hour of driving speed. So, a car travelling at 50 miles per hour should be roughly 50 feet behind the nearest vehicle ahead of it. There's a little trick you can use to estimate how far it is between vehicles. Identify some type of object on the side of the road – a mile marker, an emergency phone box or anything stationary. Mark the time when the vehicle in front of you passes by that marker, then count the number of seconds it takes for your vehicle to pass it.
If it is less than 3 seconds, you're following too closely. Of course, if the roads are wet or its raining so hard you're having difficulty seeing, add time to that. 3 seconds is the minimum.
There can be different reasons why someone would tailgate the vehicle in front of them, and no, it's not because all of them are driving aggressively. Some drivers are oblivious to their tailgating because they've been doing it ever since they got their license, and they think there is nothing wrong with it – that's just the way they drive.
Others can become complacent to their tailgating driving habit, mainly because they may be fortunate to have never rear-ended anyone, so even though they know they're doing it, they just don't care.
Another type of tailgater is the aggressive driver, the one who is in a big hurry to get wherever they may be going. You see them on the road all the time. They drive with an angry vengeance, convinced that every other driver is an “idiot” who is driving too slow and should not be on the road. They change lanes constantly, trying to get ahead of traffic at any cost. More often than not, they're going to end up next to you at the same stoplight anyway.
Add to all those types of drivers the relatively new introduction of cell phones and other distractions, and the tailgater becomes an even greater risk. Not only are they way too close to the vehicle in front of them, but their distraction makes it even more unlikely that they would be able to stop in time should the car in front of them need to suddenly hit the brakes.
Avoid Confrontation with a Tailgater
It is never a good idea to pump the brakes if you're upset that the car behind you is tailgating. This will do nothing but agitate that driver even more, and could likely end up as a case of road rage, or a very serious crash.
Most tailgaters, either because that's how they always have driven or are just unsafe, aggressive drivers, will never back off just because they see you quickly tapping your brakes a few times. In today's world, you just never know the mindset of the driver in another car or what they may be capable of.
If you can do it safely, just change lanes to let the tailgater pass you. The idea is to get as far away from them as possible. Better to be flipped off than to be involved in a serious crash. If every driver on the road just allowed additional space between their vehicle and the ones around them, rear-end crashes would see a decline in numbers and lives would be saved.
Our personal injury attorneys at Goldberg Noone Abraham have represented hundreds of people victimized by tailgaters who are responsible for causing rear-end crashes. Their injuries can be significant, and the most tragic ones can result in a loved one losing their life.
If you've been hurt in any type of motor vehicle crash caused by another driver's negligence or carelessness, we're always available to speak with you at no cost. You'll get immediate answers to all of your questions, and we'll advise you as to whether you have a legal cause for action to receive financial compensation for your injuries, loss of work, pain and suffering and other factors resulting from the crash.
Call us at 239-461-5508 or complete this short contact form and we'll call you immediately.