In summer, everybody wants to hit the road. That means traffic, and traffic means tailgating. Drivers need to know how to deal with tailgaters and how to avoid becoming one themselves.
According to the AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index, tailgating is the most common aggressive driving behavior: More than half of American drivers admit to purposefully tailgating another vehicle at least once in the past year.
Tailgating isn’t just a minor annoyance – it’s a major danger. Over the past five years in New York, drivers following too closely have contributed to over 200,000 collisions, resulting in more than 100,000 injuries.
Autonomous emergency braking offers immense potential to reduce these ill effects. These systems – frequently advertised on car commercials – detect an impending crash and engage the brakes. But AAA tests have found that these systems vary widely in performance. Some are designed only to lessen crash severity, not prevent collisions entirely, and even the most advanced systems did not avoid crashes in every scenario.
The near-term solution is changing driver behavior. If someone is tailgating you, move over to let them pass – and hope that police, who issued over 23,000 tickets to motorists following too closely in New York in 2015, are nearby.
To make sure that you don’t lapse into the habit yourself, depart early on every trip, so you’re not tempted. Leave three to four seconds between your car and the car in front of you, with even more space in inclement weather or if you’re behind a motorcycle. And if that open space soon becomes occupied, then what? Keep following the three-to four second rule, and you’ll be at a safe distance shortly.
Leave the tailgating to the ballpark or the concert parking lot. Ultimately, it’s better to save your own skin than to save two seconds on the road.
Visit www.aaanys.com to learn more.