Tailgating Is More Than Annoying, Kentucky—It’s Dangerous

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Courtesy is a necessary component of driving in Kentucky. When driving on a multilane road, the unwritten rule is that slower traffic should drive in the right-hand lane. When two vehicles arrive at a four-way stop at the same time, the vehicle on the right should be allowed to proceed.

One rule of courtesy and safety is to not tailgate, or follow another vehicle too closely. Not only is this practice irritating to the driver being tailgated, it also increases the chances of rear-ending the vehicle in front. At highway speeds, this can be deadly.

Why Do Drivers Tailgate?

Given the inherent danger in tailgating, why do people do it? Although there are no scientific data explaining the reasons for tailgating, educated guessing—as well as a bit of introspective research—yields some plausible explanations. The driver in the second vehicle

  • is late to work or an appointment;
  • just had an argument with a spouse, child, or co-worker;
  • thinks you are driving too slowly and wants you to move into the right-hand lane so he or she can pass you;
  • is a doctor or police officer en route to an emergency;
  • is slipstreaming (following closely to reduce wind resistance, thereby saving a bit of fuel); or even
  • is a criminal in a hurry to escape pursuit.

How to Avoid Being a Tailgater

Because no rule exists that governs the exact distance to leave between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, and because people’s perceptions vary regarding what is “too close,” safety experts and driving teachers have tried to fashion guidelines, such as the following:

  1. The car-length rule—This rule states that drivers should leave one car length for every 10 miles per hour of speed; for example, at 30 mph, the following distance would be three car lengths.
  2. The 2-second rule—This rule advises that a vehicle be two seconds behind the vehicle ahead, no matter what the speed; therefore, the distance between vehicles could be one or two car lengths at crawling speed and far more at highway speed. This rule takes into account perception and reaction time: the car in front brakes, the driver in the car following notices, the driver in the car following moves his foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal.

Following these rules provides a minimal level of safety. The 2-second rule has been extended to as much as five seconds; observing less than three to four seconds compromises a driver’s available reaction time.

Responsible drivers cannot keep their eyes constantly fixed on the road ahead. They glance in the rearview and side mirrors to stay aware of what is going on behind and around them. They visually react to unexpected noises and sights. Leaving plenty of space in front allows them to process all of the information they need to drive safely.

If someone was tailgating you and caused injury and damage when her vehicle ran into yours, contact a Jefferson County auto accident attorney at Gray and White Law. Phone us at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456 to set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation.