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What is “tailgating” and why is it dangerous?

Are you guilty of tailgating other drivers? Do you even know?

A lot of drivers don’t really understand exactly what it means to “tailgate” another vehicle. They’re often inadvertently guilty of doing it as a result.

You don’t have to literally be right on another car’s bumper to be tailgating. Any time you don’t have at least three seconds of travel time between you and the car in front of you, you’re driving too close and tailgating. At night, you need to keep six seconds of travel time between you and other cars. In poor weather, like heavy rain or snow, aim for nine seconds. This represents the amount of time you need to safely brake your car if the other car suddenly stops.

You can generally judge how much travel time is between your vehicle and the one in front of you by choosing a fixed object on the road ahead as a reference point. A traffic sign is perfect for this. Once the vehicle in front of you passes the object, count the number of seconds it takes you to reach the same object with your car.

There are also recommended safe intervals between cars based on the rate of speed you are traveling. At 25 mph, you need to keep at least 111 feet between you and other vehicles. At 45 mph, you need to keep 198 feet between the vehicles. At 65 mph, you need 288 feet of clear space. While most people tend to have a good idea of how much space they should keep between themselves and other vehicles at high speeds, they often fool themselves at lower speeds into believing they need less space.

Do your part to end tailgating problems as you drive. You’ll reduce the chances that you’ll end up in an unfortunate accident, and that’s always a plus. If you end up in a rear-end collision due to another driver’s tailgating, make sure you find out more about your ability to recover damages.

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