Everyone gets frustrated while driving on the roads. When other drivers aren’t paying attention or are going too slow in the fast lane, you inevitably feel the urge to tailgate them out of frustration. Or perhaps you have been distracted by something in the car or been on the phone and ended up driving a little too closely to the vehicle in front of you. Tailgating is one of the most dangerous driving maneuvers on the roads today and can quickly lead to serious car accidents. When a driver tailgates the vehicle in front of them, they place themselves and the other drivers and passengers nearby at risk of rear-end and side-impact collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions make up approximately 23 percent of all car crashes resulting in nearly 2,000 deaths and over 900,000 injuries.
What is Tailgating?
Tailgating occurs when a vehicle follows the car in front of it too closely relative to the speed of both cars. When we are taught how to drive, it is always recommended that drivers keep a safe distance away from the vehicle in front of their cars to make sure they have enough stopping time and distance if a vehicle ahead suddenly stops. When a driver chooses to tailgate, they remove that safety barrier and significantly reduce their ability to safely brake before rear-ending the vehicle in front of them or swerving and hitting a car to their left or right side. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why drivers choose to tailgate, including:
- Anger or frustration with the vehicle in front of them
- Aggressive driving style
- Sense of self-importance or placing their own needs above the needs of others
- False sense of security in their driving skills
- Poor road conditions
- Distracted or careless driving
- Heavy traffic conditions
Heavy traffic often places multiple drivers into tailgating situations and can become a car accident nightmare if a chain reaction of rear-ending takes place, leading to a complex multi-vehicle accident.
How Does Tailgating Cause Car Accidents?
When a driver tailgates and subsequently reduces their potential stopping distance to avoid an auto accident, the likelihood of causing a collision increases significantly. Stopping distance is directly proportional to the size, weight, and speed of a vehicle and is different depending on what type of vehicle is being used. The stopping distance for a semi-truck will be much greater than the stopping distance of a passenger vehicle. It can take up to twice the distance for a heavy truck to stop suddenly as a passenger car going the same speed. You can easily see why a driver of either a passenger vehicle or semi-truck could cause a motor vehicle accident when tailgating as they have reduced the distance they have to stop when there are changes on the road ahead.
When a driver is tailgating, they also tend to lose their ability to see the road ahead. If they are following a vehicle very closely and can only see the back of the vehicle instead of a few hundred feet ahead, they may not see an accident ahead, a change in the road, a detour, or other issues that could require sudden stops. Hazards on the road ahead must be prepared for and a driver needs a significant amount of time and distance on the road to react. Tailgating takes these away from the driver and places them into a more precarious position when driving. The inability to prepare for hazards on the road ahead is a recipe for disaster. The more space a driver maintains between their car and the vehicle ahead of them, the more time and distance that driver has to react to any upcoming hazards on the road.
Can a Driver Be Held Accountable for Tailgating?
When a driver is tailgating and is unable to stop in time when the car ahead of them brakes, that is considered a rear-end collision. If the driver who is tailgating suddenly swerves into the next lane to avoid hitting the car ahead of them, and instead hits a car to their side, that can be considered a side-impact collision. These collisions can cause serious injuries and even death depending on the circumstances. Tailgating in these cases may constitute negligence as all drivers have a duty of care to other vehicles around them. Drivers are expected to operate their vehicles safely and to reasonably avoid causing an auto accident. Tailgating can be considered a violation of that duty. In many cases, the tailgater will be considered at fault for causing a car accident and will be held accountable both legally and financially for the damages they cause to other parties who are involved in the crash.
Weslaco, Texas Tailgating Car Accident Attorneys
If you have been in a car accident caused by a tailgater, you may be scared, frustrated, and not know what to do. This driver may have been following you aggressively for miles before hitting you, making it an even scarier situation. By selecting knowledgeable legal representation, you won’t have to worry as much about your next steps. Contact the South Texas tailgating car accident lawyers at Ezequiel Reyna, Jr. Law Office today to discuss your case in a free consultation. There is limited time to act following a motor vehicle accident in Texas, so don’t delay.