Avoid The Dangers of Tailgating: How to Stay Safe on the Road

If you tailgate, even if you are paying close attention, you don’t give yourself enough time to react in the event you need to abruptly stop, slow down, or safely maneuver around something.

As all professional drivers know, anything can happen on the road in the flash of an eye: a huge pot hole appears, something falls from the vehicle in front of you, animals run onto the road, there’s a blowout or sudden vehicle malfunction.

According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, it takes alert drivers approximately two seconds to see a roadway hazard and react to it, therefore, the more space you allow between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, the more time you have to see a hazard and react.

What qualifies as a safe distance? rear view mirror

That depends on road and weather conditions but the National Safety Council recommends a 3 second following distance on a clear dry day. You should increase the distance if conditions aren’t ideal: road conditions are bad, the weather is bad, it’s dark, it’s icy, there is fog or if you are being tailgated yourself. A safe distance is the one that will allow you the time to perceive a hazard and safely react.

We see our professional drivers being cut off every day and we know it’s often a struggle to maintain a safe distance and still get down the road. Remember, however, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration tells us that it takes trucks traveling at 65 MPH up to two football fields to stop and you’re probably going to go 60 feet of that distance before you even start to react. Slippery roadways, fully loaded and over-sized vehicles take even more distance.

Exactly how bad is tailgating?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that in 2017, rear-end crashes were the most frequently occurring type of collision, accounting for 33% of all motor vehicle crashes and leading to more than 2,400 deaths and 615,000 injuries.

What if I’m being tailgated?

Unfortunately, you can’t stop someone from following your truck too closely and tailgating is a common bad habit on the road. Try to stay to the right and gradually slow down so that the tailgater can go around you. If that doesn’t work and you feel unsafe, try to change lanes or pull off to the side when it is safe to do so.

For more safe driving tips, visit transforce.com/blog.