What comes to mind when you see a tailgater — a driver who follows too closely — on the road? Immediately, you think that person is a bad and unsafe driver. But, looking more deeply, someone who drives too closely also is an aggressive driver.
Tailgating increases the chances of a collision or a potential road rage incident.
A dangerous driving habit
Following too closely is a risky and dangerous driving habit. Why do drivers tailgate? For one, many drivers are always in a hurry on the road. Another may be that a young and inexperienced driver is behind the wheel, who may not understand how much space they need to stop if the car ahead of them brakes.
Each year, roughly 1.7 million Americans die and a half-million others sustain injuries in rear-end collisions. Some of the collisions are caused by drivers who follow too closely.
When a driver must stop abruptly, the tailgater has little reaction time to safely brake to avoid a rear-end collision. A driver should stay at least two seconds behind the driver in front. But more safety proponents encourage the four-second driving rule in keeping a safe distance.
Let the tailgater pass you
If another driver is following you too closely, consider these actions:
- Move to the other driving lane to allow the tailgater to pass you. Stick to driving in the right lane as the left lane is for passing.
- Pull over to the side of the road to let the other driver pass you.
- If you suspect road rage, drive your car to a safe location, and call the police. Do not slow down or hit the brakes as these actions may only provoke the other driver. Also do not drive to your home.
- Always drive defensively.
Public service announcements can only help so much to alert the public about the dangers of tailgating. Understand that you as a driver must remain vigilant.
Rear-end collisions typically occur due to drivers following too closely, speeding, or being distracted. Count the unsafe tailgaters among these guilty parties. Remain alert when driving and take evasive actions to avoid any driver who follows your car too closely.