In the era of COVID-19, our theme song for 2021 is Sting’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” But when you’re driving on Illinois roads, we’re changing the lyrics to “Don’t drive so close to me!” We’ve all experienced tailgating. You look in your mirror, and you can practically see the nose hairs of the person driving behind you because they’re driving so closely. People who tailgate aren’t just annoying; they cause accidents.
Tailgating is Dangerous
Tailgating is an aggressive form of driving too close to other vehicles on the road. Drivers who follow too closely don’t allow enough time to stop if the car in front of them suddenly brakes or stops. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions make up more than a third of all car accidents each year and cause seven percent of deaths on U.S. highways.
To drive safely, you should always allow at least three seconds of distance between you and the car in front of you—people who tailgate may do so because they’re in a hurry or angry and frustrated. But many people may tailgate because they don’t understand how dangerous it is. Even people with excellent reflexes need at least two seconds to perceive that the car in front of them is braking and then begin to brake. Bringing your car to a stop takes longer if you’re traveling at a higher rate of speed or if your vehicle is larger. It takes much longer to stop a semi-truck than it does to stop a small car.
Dealing with a Tailgater
If you see someone driving too close to you, it’s important to know how to handle the situation to avoid an accident or escalating the driver’s aggressiveness on the road.
- Stay Calm:
It’s important to remain calm and continue driving safely. While you may be angry at the driver putting you and your passengers at risk, it’s important to keep that anger out of your driving. Continue to obey the speed limit, follow signs and traffic signals, and stay safe.
- Brake Slowly:
When you need to slow down, do so slowly. Don’t suddenly slam on your brakes, hoping the driver will follow at a safer speed. You may inadvertently cause an accident or escalate the aggressiveness of the driver behind you. You want to be sure that the person tailgating sees that you’re stopping with plenty of time to spare.
- Get Out of the Way:
When it’s safe to do so, get out of the driver’s way. If you’re on a multi-lane road, just put on your turn signal and get in another lane. If there’s no lane available, consider turning into a parking lot, being sure to use your blinker with plenty of time for the tailgater to notice. If the driver engaged in other aggressive behaviors, it could be best to pull into a parking lot with other cars and people for safety. Whatever you do, you want to avoid escalating the driver’s dangerous behavior.
- Don’t Speed Up:
Although it can be tempting to speed up because of the tailgater, you shouldn’t do so. Continue to follow the speed limit or drive at a comfortable speed for you, considering the speed limit and the road and weather conditions. If you speed up, you may be more likely to end up in an accident or escalate the car’s aggressive driving behind you.
- Don’t Confront:
When you let the tailgater pass, don’t use obscene gestures or yell out the window. You may only escalate the driver’s dangerous behavior and put yourself more at risk. If you’re truly afraid to pull over or into a parking lot for fear that the driver will confront you, don’t hesitate to call 911 or have a passenger do so.
Get Experienced Legal Advice
If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident caused by a tailgating driver, you need skillful legal advice. You may be entitled to compensation for property damage, economic losses, medical bills, and more.
The experienced Chicago personal injury attorneys at the Cullotta Bravo Law Group can help. Our experienced attorneys can advise you on how to proceed, help you document your claims, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, file suit to help you recover your damages. Contact us online or give us a call at 630-898-7800 to schedule a consultation and discuss your options.