We all know the frustration of following a slow vehicle when you are driving. It can delay your schedule, make you late for work, and even ruin your day. As annoying as it can be, however, it is important to avoid following too closely, or what is called “tailgating”.
Although it may seem like an innocent tactic to hurry others along, tailgating can raise a dangerous risk of a collision if the driver in front stops for any reason–especially at higher speeds. Tailgating was found to be a contributing factor in over one-third of all crashes on the road in 2018.
Even a lower-impact rear-end accident resulting from following too closely can leave a victim with long-lasting injuries. Furthermore, getting ticketed for tailgating at the scene of a crash can be significant in a claim later when fault is determined for insurance liability.
Getting hit by a driver following too closely can change your life in an instant. You are not alone if you have been hurt in an accident and want answers. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you. Call 813.755.9500 or contact us online for your free consultation.
What Is The Definition Of Tailgating?
Florida state driving laws do not specifically mention the term “tailgating,” but Statute 316.0895(1) does explain how to avoid following a vehicle too closely:
“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the highway.”
Of course, the amount of space needed for a “reasonable and prudent” following distance may change depending on the driver who is following, as well as the weather and road conditions. At lower speeds, a common guideline that is used for stopping distance is the “three-second rule”. This involves following at a distance where your car passes an object three seconds after the car in front of you does.
For trucks and other hauling vehicles, towing cargo is a factor for determining whether tailgating is taking place, according to Section (2) of the statute:
“It is unlawful for the driver of any motor truck, motor truck drawing another vehicle, or vehicle towing another vehicle or trailer, when traveling upon a roadway outside of a business or residence district, to follow within 300 feet of another motor truck, motor truck drawing another vehicle, or vehicle towing another vehicle or trailer.”
Is Tailgating A Criminal Offense?
The State of Florida considers tailgating, or following too closely, as a noncriminal, but ticketable traffic offense–meaning it could get you fined and points could be added to your license. As a moving violation under Section (4) of the statute, drivers can be stopped by law enforcement for tailgating, even if no accident has occurred.
How Could Tailgating Cause A Rear-End Accident?
Unfortunately, the three second rule may not always be the answer to determining an appropriate stopping distance, especially at higher speeds when you have less time to react. “Reaction time” is the time that it takes to recognize that the vehicle in front of you is braking, plus the time to hit your brakes in response.
If you are traveling at a faster speed, you will pass more ground per second just in the time that it takes you to realize that the car in front is braking. This is why your reaction time is smaller, and why following too closely could result in a collision. “Rear-end” accidents, where the front end of one car crashes into the back end of another, are more likely to result in cases of tailgating.
Even at a low rate of speed, these rear-end crashes can leave victims with painful and life-altering injuries. Some common physical issues that you can suffer after being rear-ended include:
- Neck, shoulder, and upper back injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Wrist and arm bone breaks
- Fractured ribs
- Facial injuries and disfigurement
- Skull and brain injuries
What Should I Do If I Think Someone Is Tailgating Me?
Tailgating is a strategy that is used often to pressure other drivers to speed up. It can be hard to tell if someone is following your vehicle dangerously close and how to safely protect yourself if they are. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
- Check your speed.
- If you are going too slow for the lane you are traveling in, safely move to the lane on the right of you and let them pass.
- If you would like to stay in the lane you are in, safely increase your speed but remain within the speed limit.
Who Should I Call If I’ve Been Hurt?
The attorneys at The Law Firm of Fernandez & Hernandez have experience securing compensation for injured victims. Hiring an attorney to protect your rights throughout the injury claim process could give you and your family peace of mind. Our legal team is ready to work with you. Call us at 813.755.9500 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.