While driving on the highway, it is not uncommon to see a driver getting as close as possible to a vehicle that is traveling a bit slower than surrounding traffic. We all get frustrated with drivers who do not keep up with the flow of traffic around us, but following the vehicle in front of you more closely is not the answer. This practice, commonly known as tailgating, is dangerous and can quickly lead to a rear-end collision or other type of car accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2019 car accident report, rear-end collisions account for over 32 percent of all motor vehicle crashes. Those accidents caused over 2,300 deaths and injured over 595,000 people. The statistics show tailgating is incredibly dangerous and is not a behavior any driver should participate in.
Why Is Tailgating So Dangerous?
When drivers tailgate behind a slower vehicle in front of them, they reduce the available distance to brake and come to a complete stop if something suddenly happens on the road ahead. Many drivers do not think about how their stopping distance is directly related to the weight and size of their car as well as how fast they are traveling. On top of decreasing the distance available to stop suddenly, drivers who tailgate are also decreasing their ability to perceive changes around their vehicles. If a driver is laser-focused on tailgating the car in front of them, they may not see another vehicle swerving or stopping suddenly, and will not have time to react to those changes. Adequate reaction time is necessary to avoid auto accidents. According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, drivers need at least two seconds to see a hazard on the road and react to that hazard. When a driver is not paying attention to other vehicles on the road and only to the car in front of them, they will not be able to react properly. Also, a driver that leaves a greater amount of space between their vehicle and the car ahead of them will have more time to react to a hazard in a safe manner.
Injuries Caused by Rear-End Collisions
A rear-end collision can cause serious injuries for all drivers and passengers involved, including death. There are many common injuries that occur in tailgating accidents, including:
- Neck and lower back injuries: Neck and lower back injuries, including whiplash, occur when the head is thrust quickly back and forth in an unnatural manner, pulling on the muscles, tendons, discs, and joints of the neck and spine. Serious damage can occur to the neck even if the car wreck occurs at lower speeds. Similarly, the lower back can become tense and locked up from traumatic force during an auto accident and severe injuries can occur that leave a victim in pain.
- Traumatic Brain Injury: TBI’s, including concussions and brain bleeds, are likely to occur when the head is thrown back and forth and hits a hard surface, causing your brain to slam against the inside of your skull.
- Bodily injuries: There are many types of bodily injuries that can occur in a rear-end collision, including torn ligaments, tendons, and muscles, broken bones, bruises, lacerations, burns, sprains, strains, and more. Common areas of the body that are injured in these types of motor vehicle accidents include the wrists, arms, hips, and legs.
- Internal Injuries: During a rear-end collision, the body may be hit in ways that do not puncture the skin but severely damage the internal organs. Internal bleeding, organ failure, and more are possible from rear-end collisions and immediate medical treatment must be sought to prevent death.
- Injuries causing permanent disablement or death: Serious and even fatal injuries can occur in a rear-end collision if the vehicle that was hit is sent flying off the road, off a bridge, or is slammed into a wall. Injuries that result from these severe crashes include dismemberment, paralysis, and even death.
How to Avoid a Rear-End Collision
The best way for a driver to avoid being part of a rear-end collision is to always leave a good amount of space between their own vehicle and other cars around them. When driving on the highway, avoid tailgating by leaving at least four to five car-lengths between you and the vehicle ahead of you. This gives you plenty of time to react to a sudden stop, debris in the road, accidents on other parts of the highway, etc. If you are being tailgated, turn your signal on to indicate that you will be getting over to a slower-moving lane of traffic. Switch lanes and let the person tailgating you pass by. Driving safely is the absolute best way to avoid being in a dangerous rear-end collision caused by tailgating.
Houston Car Accident Attorneys
Houston is a city known for its fast and aggressive drivers. Tailgating is daily occurrence that puts all drivers and passengers on the road in danger. Reckless drivers who endanger the lives of others should be held accountable for the damages their actions cause. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed by a tailgating accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.