It happens to all of us sometimes: you’re driving on a highway in northern Kentucky when you notice the vehicle behind you is filling up your rear-view mirror. The driver is tailgating you.
As most drivers know, tailgating, or following a car too closely, is unsafe. It greatly increases the chances of a car accident. If you have to brake suddenly, the tailgate behind you may not have enough time or space to avoid rear-ending you. A neck injury from whiplash is just an example of what a car accident caused by tailgating can do to you.
While you cannot get a tailgater to back off and take traffic safety seriously, there are things you can do to reduce the odds of a serious crash. Here are some tips as provided by AAA:
- Stay calm. It’s natural to feel annoyed, frightened or angry when you realize someone is tailgating your vehicle. Try not to give in to these emotions. Keep calm and continue following traffic laws.
- Brake slowly. If you need to slow down or stop because of traffic, do so as gently as you can. Your tailgater has very little time to react, so you want to make it as easy as possible for them to avoid hitting you.
- Get out of the way if you can. If you are on a multi-lane road and you have room to change lanes, do it. Letting the other driver speed off ahead of you is safer than having them follow you too closely. If you’re on a single-lane road, consider turning into a parking lot or side street.
- Don’t speed up. Often, drivers tailgate to try to intimidate the person ahead of them into speeding up. But as long as you drive the speed limit or a safe speed for current conditions, you do not have to increase your speed. In fact, you could make things more dangerous by losing control while speeding.
- Don’t engage. Resist the urge to slam on the breaks to “get back” at the other driver. Once they pass, resist the urge to make a rude hand gesture or yell at them as they go by. An aggressive driver is likely to become enraged and even more dangerous.
With luck, you will avoid a wreck. But if a tailgater does hit you, you could be entitled to full compensation for your injuries.