Most drivers have been in a situation where they feel they are being followed too closely by another vehicle. The obvious risk is that the tailgating driver won’t have enough time to brake if needed, but that’s increased by the intimidation and distraction caused to the driver in front.
Broadly speaking, tailgating means driving without sufficient distance between vehicles to avoid a crash. Reaction time to an emergency ranges from 1.5 to 3 or more seconds, which means even the best of us are guilty of tailgating at some time.
Tailgating is a key factor to the most serious common crashes crashes on our roads. More than 10,000 rear-end crashes are reported in NSW each year, with a greater number going unreported, as no one is injured. According to the RMS, rear-end crashes make up a staggering 40% of all reported crashes for experienced drivers.
In terms of liability, if a driver’s vehicle is struck from behind by another vehicle, the resulting accident is nearly always the striking driver’s fault.
The penalty for tailgating is a $433 fine and 3 demerit points. If you are being tailgated by an aggressive driver, do not allow them to indirectly control your speed or observation through intimidation. Get out of their way by pulling over or turning left. Avoid slowing or flashing your brake lights, as this may escalate the situation to road rage. You can report the driver to police or the business to which the vehicle belongs.
A 2-3 second gap (4-6 seconds in the wet) from the vehicle in front will ensure you have enough time to react and stop in most emergencies. This can be a challenge at first and you may feel like it’s costing you time, but watch a few tailgating drivers and you’ll see their progress is no better than your own.
Has a tailgater ever caused you to lose your cool?