Over the past five years, the state of Maryland has averaged over 4,000 crashes caused by driver aggression each year. This equates to over 2,000 injuries and nearly 50 deaths every year. Each and every one of these injuries and fatalities could have been prevented if a driver had not lost control of their anger and used their vehicle as a weapon.
Tailgating is a serious and violent form of aggressive driving. “Tailgating,” “following too closely,” or “riding someone’s bumper” describes when a driver leaves little room between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. While the three-second rule is recommended to measure a safe following distance, tailgating usually leaves drivers with less than one second of reaction time.
Following aggressively is a known danger, but how many accidents are caused by tailgating? The attorneys from Baltimore car accident law firm Belsky & Horowitz, LLC will look at the impact tailgating has on our roads and highways.
Tailgating Is a Top Cause of Car Accidents
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, rear-end collisions make up roughly one-third of all accidents involving more than one passenger vehicle every year. In 2020, over one million rear-end crashes occurred in the United States. Of these crashes, about 10% resulted in at least one fatality. Rear-end crashes can be prevented if a proper following distance is maintained.
If the percentage of accidents caused by tailgating seems unreasonably high, you’re not mistaken. Tailgating is a behind-the-wheel behavior that should never happen in the first place. When it does happen, the risk of collision skyrockets. Like drunk driving and texting while driving, tailgating is an action with a strong and unmistakable link to thousands of unnecessary deaths.
What Makes Tailgating So Dangerous?
The number one reason tailgating is so dangerous is because it severely reduces the time drivers have to react to road hazards and changing conditions. A driver’s ability to observe and react to surroundings is what prevents accidents. When this ability is taken away, collisions inevitably increase.
It’s estimated that drivers need at least two to three seconds to see, process, and react to a hazard. But even if the driver acts immediately and effectively, the vehicle still requires time and distance to stop. A car’s stopping distance is related to many factors, such as vehicle size and weight, tire conditions, road conditions, and the speed at which the vehicle is traveling when the brakes are applied. Few people know their car’s exact stopping distance. In many cases, it’s greater than the amount of room tailgating leaves between vehicles.
Tailgating is an accident waiting to happen. Any of the following scenarios (among others) could easily result in a serious collision that could have been prevented had tailgating not been a factor.
- Shifting traffic patterns
- A vehicle changes lanes on the highway without warning
- Construction zones
- A pedestrian, child, or animal suddenly enters the roadway
- A motorcycle or bicycle turns or merges unexpectedly
- A red light or stop sign isn’t seen until the last minute
- Road debris
- An accident happens on the road ahead, or the vehicles come across the scene of an accident
- Potholes or uneven road surfaces
- Slippery roads due to adverse weather conditions
What Injuries Result From Tailgating Accidents?
Accidents caused by tailgating can result in several types of serious injuries. One of those most critical dangers to victims of rear-end collisions is head, neck, and spine trauma. When a car is rear-ended, vehicle occupants will experience a sharp forward and back movement. In most minor cases, this can cause whiplash or a mild traumatic brain injury like a concussion. More serious cases can result in permanent disability, paralysis, a severe TBI, or facial disfigurement.
Additionally, air bags usually deploy in rear-end collisions. Although airbags can save drivers from injuries associated with impact with the steering wheel or dashboard, they can also cause bruising or broken noses. Children under 13 are especially at risk of a serious airbag injury if they are seated in the front seat at the time of a rear-end crash. Even a seatbelt can cause internal injury in a rear-end accident caused by tailgating.
Some of the most common injuries resulting from tailgating accidents include:
- Neck and back injuries
- Facial disfigurement and permanent scarring
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord damage, including partial or complete paralysis
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations from broken glass or exposed auto parts
- Internal bleeding and organ damage from blunt force trauma
- Puncture wounds
- Soft tissue injuries
How To Avoid Rear-End Collisions
The best way to avoid rear-end collisions is to never engage in tailgating yourself. But sometimes, you find yourself being tailgated by another driver. Here are a few tips for how to deal with tailgaters safely:
- Don’t look at, motion to, yell at, or engage the driver in any way
- Never “brake check” or tap your brakes to get the driver to back off
- Brake slowly, use turn signals, and act predictably
- If you’re on a multi-lane highway, signal your intention and move to another lane
- Pull over and allow the driver to pass if they continue to follow you
Can You Sue a Driver in Maryland for an Accident Caused by Tailgating?
Maryland law allows you to take legal action after an accident caused by negligence such as aggressive driving behaviors like tailgating, recklessness, and speeding. If another driver is found to be at fault in your rear-end collision, they may be liable for your injuries and property damage. By filing a car accident claim against a negligent driver, you may be able to recover financial compensation for costs like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, vehicle damage, and more.
If you were injured in an accident caused by tailgating, call the personal injury law firm of Belsky & Horowitz, LLC to learn more about your legal options. We will get to know more about your car accident case through a free consultation. Call today to schedule a no-obligation conversation with a top Baltimore auto attorney on our legal team.