Tailgating – not to be confused with the pregame festivities before a football game – is the act of driving too closely to the car in front of you. When drivers tailgate, there is an increased chance of that driver causing a rear-end accident. One of the dangers of tailgating is causing the driver in front to increase speed in order to create space, which may also cause an accident.
Why Does Tailgating Cause So Many Rear-End Crashes?
According to The National Automotive Roads Fuel Association, it takes alert drivers approximately two seconds to see a hazard on the road and react to it. For example, if you’re driving at 60 MPH on the highway, you’ll need a distance of at least 240 feet to safely stop your vehicle. That means, if you are tailgating the driver in front of you, you will not have adequate time or space to stop before rear-ending their vehicle. Essentially tailgating leads to:
- Reduced stopping distance: drivers who tailgate greatly reduce the distance indeed to bring your car to a complete stop, which is directly proportional to the size and weight of the vehicle you’re operating.
- Reduced perception time: perception time is the amount of time needed to realize there is a potential hazard on the roadway.
- Reduced reaction time: Reaction time is the time a driver needs to recognize the danger and apply the brakes or shift into another lane of travel.
While tailgating is dangerous in any weather condition, the risk of an accident greatly increases during inclement weather. In slick, snowy, or icy road conditions, drivers should practice an abundance of caution to avoid an accident.
What Are The Dangers Of Tailgating Drivers?
The short answer to this is yes, tailgaters can be dangerous. Tailgating is a form of aggressive driving that occurs when a driver perceives other drivers on the road as “too slow” or to get to their destination faster. Tailgating can also be an unintended result of distracted driving. If the driver is not paying attention to the road, they may not notice changes in traffic flow, leading to tailgating.
Some drivers simply tailgate out of habit, as they believe that they have a quick enough reaction time to avoid potential accidents.
Who Is At Fault For A Tailgating Accident In New York?
In New York, tailgating can be a violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law §1129(a). All drivers are required to keep an adequate amount of space between there and the vehicle in front of them.
New York VTL § 1129(a) states that “the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”
Therefore, in most tailgating accidents, the tailgater rear-ends the car in front and the tailgater is considered to be at fault. In the event that the driver who was rear-ended caused a condition where tailgating was unavoidable, like cutting a driver off or suddenly stopping for no valid reason, then that driver may be considered partially at-fault for the accident in the eyes of the law.
However, even if you are found to be partially at fault for a tailgating accident where you were rear-ended, you are still able to recover damages less the percentage you were found to be at fault. If you were injured as a result of a tailgating accident, you may want to consider seeking legal assistance to find out how much you can cover in damages for your injuries.
How To Avoid A Tailgating Accident
While you cannot control the actions of others on the road, you can take steps to be a safer driver and avoid the dangers of tailgating. Consider the following safety tips to avoid a potential tailgating accident:
● Leave enough room in between you and the vehicle in front of you to stop: If the car in front of you suddenly stops or there is an emergency on the roadway, it’s safe to give yourself a car length’s worth of room to stop safely.
● Remain aware of other vehicles on or entering the roadway: Larger vehicles like trucks or buses will need more room to stop and smaller vehicles like motorcycles can easily slip into blind spots.
● Increase following distance in bad weather: bad driving weather isn’t just limited to snow and rain. Leave extra room between you and the car in front of you if there is an extra glare from the sun, foggy, or any other weather event that causes you to have low visibility.
● Let tailgating cars pass: if the car behind you is following too closely, signal to move into the right-hand lane where possible, give them enough room to pass you or pull over to let them pass.
When To Contact A Personal Injury Attorney
If you were the victim of a tailgating accident, be sure to first call the police to the scene and file a police report. Even if your injuries seem minor or non-existent, it’s always your best bet to seek medical care as soon after the accident as possible.
If you’ve sustained any injuries as a result of the accident, contact a trusted personal injury attorney to evaluate your case. At Cellino Law, our team of legal professionals offer a free and confidential case consultation to anyone who was injured as a result of tailgating. Our attorneys are well-versed in NYS traffic law and will fight to ensure that you receive just compensation for your injuries. If you’ve been in a car crash, call Cellino Law at 800-555-5555 today.