It’s time to stop tailgating. If you can’t tell, I’m in a mood this morning. People just like me and you out on the road think it’s okay to follow so closely to my car they could tell I didn’t shower before the school run.
Not only is there more traffic than normal on my normal commute due to voting locations, but it’s quite obvious everyone has a bee in their bonnet. They think the only way get to where they’re going is by following way to close, going way to fast, and screaming at me for driving the speed limit in the school zone. Yes, I’m looking at you Dodge mini-van driver whose tag number I shall refrain from posting. (I told you I was in a mood.)
Keeping a safe following distance while driving doesn’t cost you time. (I’m yelling.)
Tailgating is dangerous. End of story. That’s all I need to say. But, like texting, driving while drunk, etc., people still continue to do it and today is the day I call you out.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions account for approximately 23 percent of all motor vehicle crashes, re- sulting in approximately 2,000 deaths and 950,000 injuries.
Let’s break it down into facts. If you are tailgating me and you hit me, it is your fault. If I have to slam on the brakes to avoid Rocky the Squirrel as he runs across the road, if you were tailgating and you hit me, it’s your fault.
Now, let’s say I’m tailgating someone and you hit me, causing me to hit the person in front of me. It’s your fault for hitting me, my fault for hitting the person in front of me, and most likely, the other persons insurance is going to try and sue yours as well.
I’m not sure I can be any clearer. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, if you rear-end my car because you’re following too closely, your insurance rates are going to go up exponentially. Not just because you hit me, but I am also making a car payment on my car. Which means you’ve automatically caused my car to depreciate in value. Which means I’m going to ask your car insurance company to pay me a large lump sum just for the depreciation you’ve caused as my car has lost a significant amount of value which will reflect on my trade-in value.
So you now have points on your license for causing the accident, and your insurance has increased significantly.
What happened to our Driver’s Education classes? Has everyone on the road forgotten everything they learned? Where is the car length distance you’re supposed to keep between cars. Have you forgotten the 3-second rule?
The 3-second rule is a simple way to double-check that you are driving at a safe following distance. Choose a fixed point that is even with the car in front of you. For example, a road sign or a building. If you reach that same fixed point before you can count to three, then you are driving too close to the car in front of you. (One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.)
Other critical driving elements drivers sacrifice when tailgating are perception and reaction times. Perception and reaction times are two separate intervals of time. Perception is the time we need to see and process the roadway hazard, while reaction time is the time needed for a driver’s body to physically react to their brain’s perception. When a driver tailgates, both are significantly reduced. 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. The more space a driver allows between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them, the more time they have to see a hazard and react safely.*
If you’re a parent, your child learns from watching you. It’s your responsibility to model behavior behind the wheel to influence your future driver. It’s just like swearing, if they see/hear you doing it, they’re going to assume it’s okay for them to do it as well.
To the lady in the silver Dodge Mini-Van who called me everything but a child of God today (I’m a fairly good lip reader), I hope you slow down, take a deep breath and remember that you’re not the only person out on the road. When we’re behind the wheel, it’s our responsibility to drive safely, not with your middle finger raised, screaming at people who are going the speed limit in a school zone with flashing lights.