Preventing a Tailgating Accident and What You Can Do if it Happens to You

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Oct 20, 2020 in Auto Accident

picture of driver following closely to car in frontA tailgating accident can cause significant injuries and damage to your vehicle. As these collisions are almost always preventable, learning how to prevent them is an important part of being a safe driver.

Do you know how much distance you should maintain between your car and the car in front you?

Our Portland car accident lawyers discuss things you can do to help minimize the risk of these accidents. Let us discuss your rights and potential legal options in a free, no-obligation consultation. You are not obligated to hire us after this initial meeting.

Why Tailgating is Inherently Dangerous

Tailgating is a dangerous habit for many reasons. When drivers are in a hurry, they may follow cars too closely because they are impatient or think that they can slow down in time to avoid a collision.

If the car in front of the driver suddenly stops, the tailgating driver may not be able to slow down quickly enough. He or she may be excessively speeding and have no time to come to a full stop. Tailgating accidents can often cause severe, life-altering injuries, most often to the neck, back and spine.

Aside from impatience, other causes of tailgating may include:

  • Heavy traffic – It can be easy for a driver to be tailgating a car when stuck in heavy traffic. Drivers may not want other cars to pull into the lane ahead of them. 
  • Cutting someone off – A driver needs enough space to change lanes. When a driver attempts to cut someone off while changing lanes, he or she is tailgating.
  • Weather conditions – Tailgating can happen in good and bad weather, but when conditions change quickly, some drivers may not be prepared to handle it. Under rainy or other bad weather conditions, it takes longer for a tailgating driver to stop than it would in a dry climate.
  • Distracted driving – When a driver is focused on other things besides the road, such as texting or eating, maintaining a safe distance between cars is not the focus. 
  • Lack of perceived risk – Some drivers may not realize how dangerous tailgating is or that they are engaging in dangerous behavior. A fraction of a second can make a difference in your ability to avoid an accident.

Tailgating may also cause the driver being tailgated to feel intimated, which can cause stress and a lack of concentration on the road. Being tailgated may also lead to road rage. The driver being tailgated may intentionally slam his or her brakes in anger.

The Rules of the Road

Under Oregon law, a driver is tailgating when he or she is driving more closely than is reasonable and prudent, without regard for the speed of other cars, the traffic or road conditions.

Whether traveling in Portland or across the state, there are rules you can follow to help determine and maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. If you follow these guidelines, you will have a better view of the road, more time to watch out for potential hazards, judge the speed of other traffic and react to unexpected conditions.

Guidelines for Maintaining a Safe Distance

Guidelines for maintaining a safe following distance include:

  • Maintaining at least two seconds during dry weather conditions
  • When traveling more than 30 miles per hour, a following speed is at least four seconds
  • During unsafe road conditions or inclement weather, the recommended speed is six to 10 seconds. This is critical in extremely bad weather or low visibility.

Police Involvement in Tailgating Accidents

Sometimes the tailgating driver might be the police. An officer may closely follow a driver to check a license plate, vehicle registration sticker or to see how that driver reacts. This may be more likely to happen if the officer suspects a traffic violation.

Police might also tailgate other motorists to determine how fast they are going. Other times, an officer could be trying to get to a call quickly or chase a fleeing suspect.

In Oregon, however, tailgating is still considered a violation and is dangerous- even when done by the police. Rizk Law represents a client who was a passenger in a car that had stopped for emergency sirens.

This is what happened: 

How You Can Prevent a Tailgating Accident

To avoid being tailgated on the road, keep calm. Although you cannot control the drivers around you, you can resist the urge slow down or retaliate when being tailgated. Reacting negatively can put you in danger of getting into an accident. Change lanes if you can so the tailgating driver can pass.

Always be alert and aware of other nearby cars. Allow enough space between you and the car in front of you, especially when following a motorcycle or large truck. Be sure to also travel at speeds that allow you to brake safely even if the car in front of you stops abruptly.

Request a Free Consultation to Get Started

By maintaining a safe driving distance, you may be able to avoid a tailgating accident. However, if you get injured in a collision caused by a negligent driver, Rizk Law is ready to fight for maximum compensation to help you cover medical costs, lost wages and other losses.

There is no risk in calling us, and your initial consultation is complimentary. We charge no fees up front to represent you and no costs while we work on your case. We only get paid if we obtain a recovery for you. Contact our office at 503.245.5677. We are located less than three miles from the Portland Police Bureau.