What You Should Know About This Common Driving Mistake
Tailgating occurs when a driver follows the vehicle in front too closely. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (“NYSDMV”), four out of every ten crashes involve rear-end collisions. Most of the time this is because the driver is tailgating.
The Number Two Cause of Motor Vehicle Accidents in New York State
Tailgating is a violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1129(a), and tickets can be issued to offending drivers. The penalties start with a fine ranging from $300 to $450; four points on your license; and a surcharge for a conviction of between $88 and $93. On top of the fines, insurance companies may raise rates for a tailgating ticket as much as 30%.
Besides the economic cost of tailgating, this type of driving is dangerous. Early this month on I-84 in Putnam County, there was a five-car pile up when the first car made an unexpected (and illegal) left turn into an emergency vehicle area, causing the following five, tailgating cars to have a chain reaction crash. There were multiple injuries at the scene.
Follow These Directives to Stay Safe
The NYSDMV offers the following suggestions:
- Leave enough room between your vehicle and the one ahead so you can stop safely if the other vehicle stops suddenly.
- Brake early and gently when you prepare to stop or turn. It gives the drivers behind you plenty of warning that you plan to decrease your speed.
- For a good ‘space cushion,’ use the two-second rule. In bad weather and when following large trucks, increase the count to at least three or four seconds for additional space.
What Should You Do if Someone is Tailgating You?
First and foremost, stay calm. Don’t let emotions get the best of you. Maintain your speed. Do not ‘brake check’ or slam on your brakes. Then get out of the way. If it is a two-lane street, find a spot to pull over and let the other driver pass. Practicing defensive driving will allow you to arrive at your destination safely.