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The Dangers of Tailgating

Signs line the highway to warn drivers about the dangers of tailgating, but far too often, an impatient driver will creep up behind the car ahead, edging and edging up the road until the two cars are only a few inches apart, making it hard for both drivers to stay safe in even the best driving conditions.

Tailgating, which is defined as driving at a distance of less than two seconds behind another car, is a very real danger but it is rarely addressed until it causes a serious accident.

When one driver is tailgating the car ahead, he or she is not leaving enough room for either vehicle to stop safely. If the first car needs to tap the brakes or stop suddenly for an unexpected obstacle like an animal, stopped car, tree limb or slick spot on the road, the tailgating car is often too close to react without tapping the first car’s bumper, or in more serious accidents, colliding with the vehicle.

The tailgater runs the risk of causing an accident and placing himself and any passengers in danger of being thrown forward upon impact or sustaining other injuries.

Most people who tailgate do not consider themselves dangers to the other drivers or to themselves because they are relying on their own skills as drivers to protect them. These drivers think that they will be able to stop in time if the car in front of them stops quickly and that their reflexes will keep them from causing an accident.

However, it is not reflexes or poor driving abilities (other than tailgating) that cause accidents in these cases. The stopping distance of the vehicles involved is what matters.

For example, a small four-door can stop much quicker in less space than a large truck, so drivers who tailgate should be aware of the stopping distance left for the car in front of them. If the appropriate distance is not maintained, a sudden stop can be catastrophic for both vehicles.

Safe Distances for Safe Travels

Statistics show that cars traveling around 60 miles an hour need 120 to 140 feet to come to a complete stop. SUVs and larger vehicles need anywhere from five to ten feet more to stop fully.

Drivers should stay at least three seconds behind the car in front of them to maintain a safe stopping distance. If you are being followed by a tailgater, you have the option to cross into another lane or continue to drive the speed limit.

As the Colorado Drivers Handbook suggests, you should watch the car in front of you pass a mile marker, landmark, or other identifying object along the road and count slowly to three.

By the time you reach the selected marker yourself, three seconds should have passed. Safe driving distances will be affected by conditions on the road as well, such as ice, rain, snow, poor visibility or heavy traffic.

Denver auto accident lawyers like Jordan Levine represent drivers who have been injured in an accident involving a tailgater or other negligent driver. For more information, contact Levine Law today. 

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