We’ve all seen it happen. A motorist is driving responsibility and obeying the speed limit when a car pulls up behind them and gets so close to their rear bumper that they’re practically in the backseat. This obnoxious habit of following too closely, also known as ‘tailgating,’ is illegal in South Carolina – and for good reason.
Tailgating can do more than just annoy other drivers. It can cause accidents and lead to serious injuries and death. It’s also illegal in South Carolina, with the law stating that drivers shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is “reasonable and prudent.” A ticket for following too closely can also add up to four points on your license (which will likely increase your insurance premium).
Why is Tailgating Dangerous?
- Tailgating increases the possibility of an accident occurring – When a motorist tailgates another car, their stopping distance (the distance needed to come to a complete and safe stop) is severely reduced.
A person traveling at 60 miles per hour needs a stopping distance of 240 feet. If a driver doesn’t leave enough distance between them and the car in front of them, it’s very likely that they’ll slam into the car if the driver decelerates or slams on their brakes. A tailgating driver also does not have enough time to brake or swerve to avoid a collision, particularly when traveling at high speeds.
- Tailgating obstructs your view of the road ahead –When you follow a car too closely, all you can see is the back of that vehicle. This is extremely dangerous, as it prohibits you from seeing obstructions in the road ahead.
- Tailgating can fuel road rage – Tailgating is a form of aggressive driving and often triggers road rage. For example, some drivers do what is known as a ‘brake check,’ hitting their brakes to warn off tailgaters. However, this often escalates the situation and increases the chances of an accident occurring.
Although road rage can be caused by many different behaviors on the road, a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the most common instance of “significant anger, aggression, or road rage behind the wheel” was tailgating, with 51% of poll respondents saying they had experienced it in the year prior to being surveyed.
What Causes Tailgating?
The cause of tailgating depends on the driver who is responsible. However, here are some common reasons why people follow too closely in South Carolina:
- Impatience – Many drivers who are in a hurry partake in risky behaviors like tailgating instead of accepting that getting to their destination safely is more important than getting there on time.
- Heavy traffic volume – When traffic is heavy, some drivers tailgate the car in front of them to prevent anyone else from cutting in.
- Distracted drivers – Distracted drivers often tailgate because they simply aren’t paying enough attention to the road to realize how closely they’re following the car in front of them.
Drivers can become distracted by just about anything, but some common causes of distracted driving include:
- Talking on the phone
- Adjusting audio or climate controls
- Recording or watching videos
- Reaching for something on the floor of the car
- Turning around to help a child in the backseat
- Talking to passengers
- Applying makeup
- Eating or drinking
- Tending to pets
- Aggressive drivers – These bullies of the road find personal enjoyment in intimidating others. Interestingly, a study found that people who exhibit higher levels of narcissism are more likely to drive aggressively and engage in dangerous driving behaviors, due to the fact that they “lack empathy, are entitled, and believe they are not bound by the normal rules.”
- Lack of perceived risk – Old habits die hard. There are many drivers who have gotten away with tailgating for many years without incident, and therefore continue to do it. However, their actions will catch up to them at some point, and the result could be catastrophic.
What to Do When Another Driver is Tailgating You
It’s important to practice defensive driving when you’re being tailgated. Here are some helpful things to do when another motorist is following you too closely:
- Pull into the adjacent lane and let them pass – This isn’t always possible, but you should make every effort to do so if you can.
- Drive the speed limit – If you can’t let the tailgater pass you, then stay in the lane and maintain the speed limit. You don’t want to go too fast or too slow in a tailgating situation – speeding is dangerous and can lead to a ticket, while going too slow can make the tailgater angry and lead to an escalation of the situation.
- Don’t tap the brakes – It’s never a good idea to ‘brake check’ when you’re being tailgated. This will almost certainly serve to anger the tailgating driver, and might lead to an accident.
- Don’t partake in any road rage behavior – Avoid making rude gestures to the driver behind you, and don’t turn around to make eye contact. Never let the other driver follow you home. If you feel unsafe, call the police.
It’s also important to note that if another driver cuts you off in traffic, you could end up unintentionally tailgating that car. If this happens, create distance from the car if it’s possible to do so.
Tailgating Causes Accidents
In 2019, South Carolina saw 11,158 collisions caused by tailgating. A total of 3,494 people were injured in those crashes.
Tailgating injuries can be minor or severe, and some can even lead to death. Here are some common automobile accident injuries seen throughout South Carolina:
- Neck and back injuries
- Brain injuries
- Burn injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates Today
If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident caused by someone tailgating you, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim to help cover the financial, physical, and emotional hardships caused by the collision.
The tailgating accident lawyers at McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates believe that innocent parties shouldn’t be left to pay for an accident that wasn’t their fault. Our law firm has been representing auto accident victims for more than four decades, and we’re passionate about helping our clients receive every penny they’re rightfully owed.
Our South Carolina car accident attorneys know how to go head-to-head with stubborn insurance companies that will do anything to avoid paying out a fair sum, and we pride ourselves on our ability to build strong cases that end in favorable results.
Most of our cases settle outside of court, but we’re ready to take every case to the courtroom if necessary. Our strong track record of success speaks for itself, and we’re delighted to be able to help members of our community receive fair compensation following their tailgating accidents.
Every case is different, but our clients often receive compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost income
- Lost or diminished earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and scarring
We offer free case evaluations to South Carolina tailgating accident victims, so give us a call today at 888-353-5513. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®