Why tailgating is a dangerous driving habit

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It takes a vehicle traveling at 60 mph a minimum of 240 feet to come to a safe stop. The first 60 feet is the time it takes you to realize that you need to stop, and then it takes 180 feet for the vehicle to completely stop. If the road is wet or your vehicle is over-sized, these distances increase significantly. Wet roadways can take up to four times as long for the vehicle to stop. The bottom line is that it takes a long time to stop a moving vehicle. If you are traveling too closely, you are going to crash if the vehicle in front of you comes to a sudden stop.

Just how common are collisions due to tailgating? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that 23 percent of all motor vehicle crashes are rear-end collisions, leading to 2,000 deaths and 950,000 injuries every year. Those are significant numbers, and numbers that could be lower if drivers simply did not follow so closely. If you are serious about safety in your fleet, teach your fleet drivers to back off. Leaving a little more room on the road is important for everyone.

Tips for Following at a Safe Distance

According to DMV, 74 percent of drivers indicate they have been tailgated some time in the past six months. Drivers indicated it was one of the most annoying driving behaviors. Yet only 11 percent of drivers indicate that they have been guilty of tailgating. This disconnect shows that many drivers are not aware of what tailgating really entails.

If you are looking to keep the distance between yourself and other drivers at a safe distance, aim for 10 feet per 10 mph of speed. So, for a vehicle driving at 45 mph, you would need 45 feet of distance. Of course, measuring distance while driving is difficult, so consider these tips:

  • Pick a marker on the road and count the time between when the car in front of you passes and then when you pass. You should have at least 3 seconds of time between when the back of the other vehicle passes and the front of your vehicle reaches the marker.
  • In wet or fast driving conditions, add another second or two of time.
  • If the vehicle is driving too slowly, avoid the temptation to tailgate to make a point. Instead, find a safe way to pass.

If you find that you are being tailgated, take defensive measures to avoid an accident. Consider:

  • Finding a way to allow the faster vehicle to pass.
  • Leave sufficient space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you, in case of a crash. This will avoid a multi-vehicle crash.
  • Drive in the right hand lane.

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