Tailgating is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States. Tailgating occurs when a driver follows the car in front of him or her much too closely.
Florida law prohibits vehicles from following too closely, but it does not specifically state how close is “too close” in most situations.
Generally, however, vehicles on the highway should allow for at least one car length between them.
Following too closely significantly decreases the driver’s reaction time, which increases the likelihood of an accident.
However, there are some actions you can take to help avoid an accident, even when the driver behind you is being unreasonable.
1. Keep calm.
If the tailgater upsets you, it is still important to keep calm so you can maintain control of your vehicle.
Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that just because the person behind you is being ridiculous does not mean that you have to respond or react.
You should also make efforts to keep your passengers calm as well.
2. Stay focused.
Keep distractions to a minimum so you can observe your surroundings carefully and react quickly if necessary.
Dealing with tailgaters can make you tense, so you need to use all of your energy and efforts to stay focused to avoid an accident.
3. Slow down.
If you drive at a slower speed, that will give the car behind you more time to react if you have to use your brakes quickly.
Although your tailgater will likely not appreciate this course of action, this is probably the best way to increase the amount of time they need to react.
Keep in mind that large cars or trucks and motorcycles require more time to stop than the average passenger vehicle.
4. Increase the distance between you and the car in front of you.
If you are rear-ended, it is possible that you are pushed into the car in front of you, causing a pile up.
You can avoid this type of accident by increasing the distance between you and the car in front of you; leave yourself plenty of stopping room.
When the weather is poor, you should increase this distance even more.
Also Read : Do Not Do These Things after a Car Accident
5. Pull over and let the vehicle pass.
If the driver behind you is clearly becoming irate and dangerous, it might be best to just pull over and let them pass you when it is safe to do so.
Slowing down to allow them to pass (do not speed up) can work just as well. If you move toward the side of the road, without going off, this will generally signify that you would like to let the driver behind you pass.
Moving in this way allows the tailgater to see around you to determine when it is safe to pass. Avoid speeding up, if at all possible.
6. Avoid tapping your brakes in an attempt to get the tailgater to back off.
Many people will try this technique, but it can have unexpected consequences. Your tailgater may slow down momentarily, but once they realize what you did, they may not take you seriously the next time you actually need to quickly apply your brakes.
Never brake hard just to “teach them a lesson.” This is more likely to end up causing an accident—one where you might be partially liable for the damages.
7. Do not be part of the problem.
If you are in multi-lane traffic, you are likely not legally obligated to get out of the tailgater’s way while you are in the left or middle lanes.
However, it will likely cause less problems if you switch lanes when it is safe to do so. Slower traffic should generally keep right.
As the vehicle passes you, you may want to make a mental note of their license plate number or other identifying information.
You can report these troublesome drivers to non-emergency law enforcement if you think they are dangerous.
If the tailgater is from a company, they may have a “How’s My Driving?” number that you could call to report any problems.