Avoiding and Managing Tailgating Scenarios
The Dangers of Tailgating Part 2
Avoid Tailgating Other Drivers and Be Aware of What’s Ahead
The absolute best thing you can do to avoid finding yourself in a bad situation is to keep a safe distance. A good rule of thumb that takes into account speed and reaction time is choosing a fixed object and counting to three to determine a reasonably safe following distance. The two-car-lengths-between rule is also a helpful measure to avoid most hazards.
Another thing to consider is visibility. Always check to see what is going on in front of the vehicle that you are following. Is this vehicle you are following tailgating the vehicle in front of it? What if the vehicle in front of you makes an error and has to cram on the brakes suddenly? If you can spot potential trouble early, you’ll have even more time and space to react.
I Hit the Brakes but There Just Wasn’t Time; Is There Anything I Can Do?
When we investigate collisions, it often appears there wasn’t time to stop, whether or not the driver made every effort. If you find yourself in that situation, steering to avoid a collision can be a viable option as long as there is a safe place to go (such as the right-hand shoulder). However, drivers who are under pressure or simply under trained have a tendency to steer too quickly, overcorrect, and lose control of the vehicle. Other common steering errors include moving into oncoming traffic on the left or into a solid object to the right.
What if the Driver Behind Me Follows Too Close?
- Try to leave more space in front of you, and, if there is a safe passing lane available, travel slightly slower than other traffic. The tailgater will likely get close, and then pass.
- If the tailgater cannot pass you, lightly touch your brakes. Do not slow down, just activate your brake lights to alert the tailgater they are following too close. If the tailgater doesn’t get your intended message, he or she may at least think you are a poor driver and stay back a bit; also a good result.
- If a tailgater becomes hostile and/or continues to follow too close, again, the best thing you can do is increase the space in front of your vehicle. The tailgater is at fault if they run into you, but you can improve your own safety by leaving a comfortable space in front of you at all times.
Sometimes Moving Forward Means Backing Off
Driving brings ever-changing tasks and scenarios, and we can’t possibly maintain our desired safety zone 100 percent of the time. Regardless, the more often we strive to maintain a safe distance, the better our odds of arriving at our destination with our vehicles and selves in tact.