Byron Carlson Petri & Kalb, LLC | attorneys at law

Tailgating is both dangerous and illegal

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2023 | Traffic Violations

Some traffic laws seem like they were made to annoy and frustrate drivers. However, most regulations exist to keep motorists safe. Following even the most obscure traffic rules might not look lifesaving at first glance, but the alternative can cost a life.

Take tailgating for example. Defined as driving too close to the vehicle in front of you, tailgating might seem harmless to some. But driving bumper-to-bumper isn’t just endangering the lives of both you and the driver in front, but also illegal per Missouri law.

The risks of tailgating

Driving too close to the vehicle in front of you gives you less time to react and hit the brakes when the front vehicle suddenly stops. Your risk of getting into a rear-end collision increases, and you could injure yourself, your passengers and the other driver.

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries resulting from a rear-end vehicular collision. It’s caused when sudden motion forcibly bends the neck forward and back (or vice-versa), like during a rear-end collision. The symptoms of whiplash develop within days and can include neck pain, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, blurred vision and even depression. The most severe cases could even lead to memory loss. Both you and the other driver are at high risk of suffering whiplash if your tailgating leads to a collision.

At high speeds, a rear-end collision can be potentially fatal. The force of the crash doesn’t just stop at your limbs and bones, as it can also affect your internal organs.

State law on tailgating

Missouri law prohibits drivers from following another vehicle too closely. It prescribes that drivers should allow some “sufficient space” – enough to enable another automobile to overtake or pass safely. Violation of the law is considered a class C misdemeanor, which carries a maximum $750 fine and up to 15 days in jail. You’ll most likely face traffic violation charges once your tailgating causes an accident, and the other driver could sue you for their injuries.

Avoiding tailgating

One of the best ways to avoid tailgating is to be aware of your vehicle’s stopping distances. This stopping distance must consider your car’s average speed, weight and braking power. You must also consider the time it takes to react to the automobile before you.

Another much easier way to avoid tailgating is the “two-second rule.” To do this, pick a stationary point or object ahead of you and the vehicle in front – a tree, a road sign or a building will work. When the vehicle in front passes the point, count to two. If it takes you two or more seconds to reach the same point, you’re maintaining a safe distance from the other vehicle.

In summary, tailgating is dangerous driving behavior that can get you injured and a criminal record. Always keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead unless you want to get into deadly and illicit trouble.