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Action Legal Group > Uncategorized  > HOW CLOSE IS TOO CLOSE WHEN DRIVING?


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It’s pretty easy (and aggravating) to tell when someone is driving a little too close to you, but how do you know if you’re the one that’s too close?

The threshold of discomfort in tailgating fluctuates from person to person, but it doesn’t with the law. If a vehicle is following another very closely and causes an accident, they are at fault in the eyes of the law. This means they can be held liable for the damage caused to the other party.

“Too close” isn’t exactly a static distance though. It depends on a lot of factors, including weather, your vehicle, driver attention, etc. Here are a few tips to help you stop tailgating and become a safer driver!

There isn’t an exact measurement of how far apart one car should be from another. Instead, it’s range drivers should be aiming to stay within. An attentive driver needs an average of 1.5 seconds to respond to a hazard on the road. Here’s a few things that can affect that reaction time.

Weather: Slippery roads and bad visibility can delay your reaction time and require a larger distance between you and other drivers.

The Vehicle: Some cars are going to take longer to stop than others, depending on things like weight, age, and maintenance. It’s important to keep this in mind when driving, especially if it’s a vehicle you don’t drive often.

Speed: A vehicle traveling at 55mph needs at least 419 feet. Drivers traveling faster than that should increase the following distance in order to give themselves space and time to react to hazards.

Attention: Even a quick glance at your phone or getting lost in your thoughts for a moment can be the difference between life and death. If you find yourself distracted, tired, or not focused when driving, it is important to keep a great distance between you and other vehicles until you can safely pull over and collect your bearings.

How can I tell if I was tailgating? Most drivers who are issued traffic violations for tailgating aren’t even aware that they were breaking the law because a “safe” distance can mean different things to different people. The ebb and flow of traffic doesn’t allow for a standard following distance, so drivers must use their best judgment when on the road.

This means planning ahead, staying alert, and traveling safely to allow for the utmost mobility. If you feel like driving too close to the car in front of you, you should slow down and leave some distance.

Measuring the following distance can be hard, but you can use a few tricks. Counting from when the back bumper of the car in front of you passes a landmark is a great way to measure.

Under 30mph: you should stay two to three seconds behind the vehicle in front of you when going under 30 mph. Four seconds is ideal, but two to three is still safe.

Above 30mph: you should leave at least 8 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you at higher speeds.

You can also use the two-second rule, adding one vehicle length for every 5 miles an hour you are driving. At 50mph or over, you should leave 9 seconds of space for the most ideal reaction time.

What if I’m not the one tailgating but being tailgated? It’s important to stay calm in a situation like this. Don’t get angry or make sudden moves, as that may increase the accident risk. Instead, follow these steps:

Change lanes if you can.
Maintain a steady speed; don’t speed up or slow down.
Keep a safe following distance from the car ahead of you.

It can get very frustrating and even scary when someone drives aggressively around us, but it keeps you and others safer when you maintain a calm and level-headed composure.

If a tailgating driver caused an accident you were involved in, you should contact a legal expert immediately. There are a few legal options for you that they can walk you through. If you or a loved one were involved in an accident caused by tailgating, contact us today!

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