The Safety Risks of Tailgating

The Safety Risks of Tailgating

by / Monday, 26 September 2022 / Published in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Two people stand next to two cars that have been in a crash.

Every driver finds themselves getting frustrated behind the wheel from time to time. Perhaps there’s more traffic on the road than you expected, having to make a sudden detour because of a road construction project, or seeing other drivers not following the rules of the road. Driver frustration is extremely common, but it’s extremely important to make sure it doesn’t turn into aggressive driving.

Aggressive driving behavior can take many different forms, including running red lights/stop signs, weaving in and out of lanes, speeding when traffic is heavy, blocking other cars, moving in front of another car and slowing down, or following other drivers too closely – a.k.a.: tailgating. Tailgating is one of the most common types of aggressive driving. Not only can it be frustrating for the driver being followed, it can also be very dangerous. 

Michigan Law & Tailgating

In the state of Michigan, laws about tailgating and following distance are covered by Section 257.643 of the Michigan Vehicle Code. This section states that drivers cannot follow another vehicle more closely than is, “reasonably prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.” 

It’s generally recommended that drivers keep 3-4 seconds of following distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them on the road. However, that guideline is under ideal conditions. This section of the Michigan Vehicle Code reflects the fact that in some cases, you may need a larger following distance. For example, if roads are snowy, icy, or wet, it will take more time for vehicles to come to a complete stop than it would on a warm, sunny day so you need to increase your following distance to make sure you can stop safely. It’s also recommended to increase your following distance if visibility is reduced or if you’re towing something like a trailer, since heavier vehicles need more time to stop. 

If a driver is stopped for failing to maintain a safe following distance, it’s considered a civil infraction that can result in a fine and points on a license. According to Insurify, 14 out of 10,000 drivers nationwide have a prior citation for tailgating. 

The Dangers of Tailgating

Tailgating is a particularly dangerous type of road behavior because of how easy it is to cause a crash. According to the NHTSA, 27.8% of all car crashes in the United States in 2020 (among crashes involving more than one vehicle in motion) were rear-end collisions. Those rear-end collisions resulted in 2,483 fatalities and 417,062 injuries. 

When drivers tailgate, they have less time to react to the driver they’re following. If the car in front needs to suddenly stop in reaction to something ahead of them, the tailgater has less time to stop safely. Or even if a driver doesn’t stop suddenly and simply starts slowing down while approaching something like a stop sign or red light and the tailgater doesn’t react in time, it could cause a collision. 

Tailgating can be particularly dangerous when people are driving on roads with higher speed limits. The faster a vehicle travels, the more time the vehicle needs to stop safely. And higher speeds create more forceful collisions that can result in more serious injuries. 

Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer

Even if you try your best to be a careful driver and follow the rules of the road, you can still get hurt in a car accident if others aren’t as cautious. If you’ve been injured in a collision, don’t hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer to learn about your rights and your legal options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’re experienced in helping the victims of car accidents in the state of Michigan. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.