Tailgating Car Accidents and Liability
Tailgating is a dangerous driving habit that causes a number of accidents in the United States. When a driver tailgates, it means that he or she is not leaving enough space between their car and the car in front of them; they are riding on its tail. Tailgating increases the risk of an accident because, if the car in front suddenly needs to slow down or stop for any reason, the tailgating car has less time to react. As such, tailgating can often cause rear-end collisions.
Parker Waichman LLP has decades of experience representing automobile accident victims. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a car accident lawsuit.
“Brake checking” is another behavior associated with tailgating. When a driver notices that he is being tailgated, and the car behind him is driving much too close, he will sometimes “tap” the brake in attempt to get the tailgating driver to leave more distance. Tailgating is dangerous, but so is brake checking. Both behaviors can cause vehicles to needlessly collide with one another.
If a car accident occurs and a driver was clearly tailgating, it is easier to prove liability. Filing a lawsuit for a tailgating accident may involve showing that the driver was negligent, and subsequently violated motor vehicle statutes. Suing for negligence involves four key factors: duty, breach, causation and damages.
“Duty” means that, if you are suing the other driver you must show that he owed you a duty of care. In the case of an automobile accident, the duty of care would be to drive in a way that does not endanger other people on the road. If the driver caused an accident by tailgating you, then he “breached” this duty of care. “Causation” involves showing that your injuries were caused by the driver’s breach of duty, which in this case involved failing to keep a safe distance between vehicles. “Damages” requires proof of your injuries. You may cite medical records, bills and other pieces of evidence, for example.
In nearly every state, there are laws prohibiting tailgating. Florida Statutes, for example, state 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.”
In any type of car accident lawsuit, it is useful to have pictures of the accident scene and damage to the vehicles. Obtaining an eyewitness statement can also help build your case.
Safety Tips to Prevent a Tailgating Accident
Tailgating is a behavior associated with aggressive driving. In some situations, such as when people are in a hurry and roads are congested, it is easy to understand why some drivers become frustrated and start tailgating the vehicles in front of them. Some individuals may believe that closing the gap between cars will make other vehicles speed up, and improve traffic. It is important to remember, however, that tailgating endangers all drivers on the road and can easily cause a rear-end collision.
There are several safety tips that drivers should implement to avoid a tailgating accident. Firstly, travel at a speed that allows you enough time to safely stop should the car in front of you come to a halt. Even if you are driving the allowed speed limit, you can still cause an accident if you are close enough to the vehicle in front of you. Driving at the appropriate speed is especially important when road conditions are dangerous. Driving fast allows you less time to slow down.
Secondly, be sure to leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. If you are tailgating and the car in front suddenly stops, you can easily slam into it and cause a serious accident. As a general rule, it helps to leave 10 feet of distance for every increment of 10 mph. If you are driving 40 mph on the highway, for example, leave 40 feet of space between you and car in front. If the vehicle in front of you is a large automobile or motorcycle, leave an even bigger gap because these vehicles need even more distance to slow down.
When road conditions are poor, such as when there is rain, snow, fog or sleet, it is a good idea to leave twice as much space as usual. Drivers can easily lose control when the roads are slippery, so take extra precautions in these situations.
Tailgating Accidents and Injuries
Unfortunately, a number of accidents are caused by tailgating. These stories sometimes make it into the news, and serve as a reminder that certain driving behaviors can have serious consequences.
WISH TV recently shared the story of a deadly crash in Indianapolis. On Jan. 20, a 51-year-old woman driving a Kia Soul rear-ended a semi tractor. Police say that road rage and tailgating may have caused the fatal crash. The semi was reportedly driving appropriately, but the Kia driver may have allegedly been pressured to speed up because another car was tailgating her. Speeding up may have influenced the accident. The woman was transported to a hospital, and later died of her injuries.
In August 2016, the Arizona Department of Public Safety released a video that highlights the dangers of tailgating. The footage, captured by a commercial truck driver, shows one car traveling too close to the vehicle in front of it. The tailgating driver swerves suddenly to avoid a mattress on the road, colliding with a nearby commercial truck, hit the side of a mountain and then rolled over along the interstate, AZ Central reports. Luckily, nobody was hurt in the accident. The driver who was tailgating was not injured because she was wearing her seatbelt, according to the Department of Public Safety.
Legal Help for Car Accident Victims
Parker Waichman has decades of experience representing car accident and other accident victims. If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, you may have valuable legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).