Posted on: May. 20, 2017 in Driving, Safety

Do you tailgate? If you do, you run a higher risk of contributing to a finding by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that says rear-end collisions are the most common car accidents.


Rear-end collisions are often caused by the inability of a driver to stop their car before it hits the car in front of it. Typically, traffic slows or comes to a stop and the driver behind either wasn’t paying attention or was following too closely, or tailgating. Following a car too closely is especially dangerous in poor weather when roads are slicker. Visibility is also reduced when there is not enough space between cars.

Drivers should maintain at least a three-second distance from the car in front of it. You may have heard people speak of being “3 car lengths behind,” but that doesn’t account for speed of travel. The faster you’re driving, the further behind a car you should be. It’s fairly simple to determine this distance.

Here’s how:

  • Look for a stationary object ahead of you such as an overhead sign, a building, or a tree.
  • As the car in front of you passes the object, begin counting seconds (one-one thousand… two-one thousand… three-one thousand…).
  • Stop counting when your car passes the same object.

If your count is at least three seconds, this is a safe following distance. If the roads are wet, leave more room. If you’re traveling in the dark, you may not be able to see roadside markers as easily, so leave extra room to be cautious.

If your count was less than three seconds, you’re tailgating and you need to back off. Slow down, then try counting again when you’ve created some distance.

You can’t control what other drivers will do and you have no idea if they are tailgating or distracted in some way. If they are, they are more likely to have an accident. If you’re too close, you’ll become of that accident very quickly! And no driving safety tip would be complete without a word of caution about distracted driving. If you’re looking at your phone or the music or tending to kids in the back seat, you’re even more likely to be following too closely or to have an accident.

Pay attention, stay back, and arrive safely at your destination.

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