Since tailgating drivers continue to cause many serious accidents and whiplash injuries, we all must learn how to minimize their chances of harming us. While some people purposefully tailgate or “ride your bumper” to express their road rage, others are just highly nervous, distracted, or impatient individuals – determined to get wherever they’re going, even if it means forcing you and others off the road.
During one recent year, Texas Department of Transportation driver accident statistics indicated that there were 14 fatal accidents in urban areas caused by “following too closely.” Another 286 urban collisions involved “tailgating” – and caused various incapacitating results like whiplash injuries.
Although the majority of accidents caused by tailgating do not cause serious injuries, there are approximately 20,000 of these types of auto collisions each year in Texas.
Here are some guidelines that may help you reduce the risk of your being hit by a tailgater.
Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with Careless or Impatient, Tailgating Drivers
Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. Some car safety experts recommend keeping at least 10 feet per each 10 miles per hour you’re traveling between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Of course, this is easier said than done since so many bad drivers constantly see open spaces and zigzag right into them – never realizing that you tried to put distance between you and the vehicle ahead for safety reasons;
Always allow added space between you and other drivers during bad weather. Whether there’s rain, snow, or sleet, make sure you give yourself added “stopping space.” Keep in mind that slick streets often lead to extra accidents;
Switch lanes if a tailgater won’t leave you alone –and use your turn signal. It’s not your fault that other drivers often leave too late to reach their destinations on time. So, if other drivers keep right on your back bumper, move and give them the lane you’re traveling in;
Move into the right-hand lane and stay there. While this maneuver won’t save you from a run-of-the-mill distracted driver who may tailgate behind you – it may help you with the uptight and impatient tailgater who views all other drivers as mere nuisances to be ignored;
Memorize the person’s front license plate and be prepared to safely exit the freeway or road. Once you’ve pulled far out of the way of any danger and stopped your vehicle, jot down the license plate. Next, call the local police department or highway patrol and report the incident. Assuming the other driver did not stop to exchange information and wait for law enforcement to arrive, be prepared to also provide a description of the driver. You should also sit and wait a few minutes before returning to the same road. Hopefully, the tailgater will have finally passed on by – well ahead of you;
Do not let the other driver’s poor behavior upset you. While you may be dealing with a hopeless alcoholic or drug addict – the person may also be rushing to a hospital to see a loved one who may not make it through the night. Just stay calm and move out of the way. Breathe deeply and just look forward to reaching your own destination safely. Also, consider taking a defensive driving course that can teach you additional ways to properly handle careless and aggressive drivers.
Terry Bryant is Board Certified in personal injury trial law, which means his extensive knowledge of the law has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, setting him apart from many other injury attorneys. The 22 years he spent as a Municipal Judge, Spring Valley Village, TX also provides him keen insight into the Texas court system. That experience also helps shape his perspective on personal injury cases and how they might resolve. This unique insight benefits his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]