Because driving is such a dangerous activity, it makes sense to think that drivers would be exceedingly cautious behind the wheel. Of course, the reality of most driving situations is vastly different. In fact, you have likely witnessed many drivers who seem to throw caution to the wind while driving rather than thinking about their safety and the safety of others
Too many drivers carry out unsafe actions on the road, and too often, car accidents result. Distracted people who are in a hurry, drowsy, or impaired can all cause problems for everyone on California roadways. Even someone just following too closely could cause a major accident.
Tailgating is not good driving
Some people may think that if they drive closely to the vehicle in front of them, then that driver will go faster. However, that often is not what happens, as the slower moving vehicle is likely trying to comply with the speed limit, accommodate for weather conditions or pay attention to traffic. As a result, the slower moving vehicle ends up with someone riding dangerously close to it. If you have someone tailgating you and you need to stop suddenly, the other driver may not have room to stop without hitting your vehicle.
You may understandably worry about someone driving so close to your vehicle, but it is important that you pay attention to the road in front of you. If you start checking your rearview mirror too often, you may end up distracted and could cause an accident yourself.
What NOT to do if someone is tailgating
Tailgating is dangerous because of the possibility of a rear-end collision. Do not “brake check” the tailgating driver. Tapping your brakes hard may cause that collision you feared if the other driver does not react in time. Braking suddenly can also escalate the situation to a “road rage” incident. You never know who is behind the wheel, but if they are aggressively riding your tail, don’t take chances.
If there is room ahead of you, you can gradually increase your speed to create separation. The other driver may not realize they are following too close. But if you accelerate hard or suddenly change lanes to escape a tailgater, the aggressive driver may do the same. Don’t play their game.
So what can you do?
If someone is tailgating you, there are many strategies that may work:
- On a multi-lane road, move to the right lane. If the person is impatient to pass, they will go into the left lane(s).
- Slow down. Without braking, you can reduce your speed. If the person is tailgating because they are impatient, they may go around you. However, on a highway, do not drive below the minimum speed limit.
- Maintain a constant speed. Are you subconsciously speeding up and slowing down?
- If the person is still tailgating you, you can pull over to the shoulder to let them pass. If the other driver also pulls over behind you, do not get out of your car or engage them. Call 911.
Someone following too closely can be more than irritating. If the vehicle does hit yours, you could easily end up in a serious crash that leaves you with injuries. If so, you may have reason to take legal action against the at-fault driver in an effort to seek compensation for allowable damages.