Unfortunately, too many drivers get too close. Impatience, road rage, or a simple lack of knowledge of a safe following distance can all contribute to crashes occurring. When these crashes happen, an Austin tailgating accident attorney at the Loewy Law Firm should be consulted to provide help to the victims.
What is Tailgating?
Tailgating, or trailing too closely behind another car, is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors that a motorist can engage in on the road. Drivers should leave a following distance of approximately four seconds between their vehicle and the car in front of their own. This means when the lead vehicle passes by a fixed object on the roadside, the vehicle behind it should not pass that same object for at least four seconds. If the weather is bad, a longer following distance is appropriate.
Who Is Responsible for a Tailgating Accident in Austin?
Tailgating accidents are almost always rear-end crashes, which means the driver who was following too closely behind hits the back bumper of the lead vehicle. In rear-end crash cases, there is a presumption that the driver in the rear vehicle is to blame. The driver in the lead car, as well as any passengers, can file a claim against this rear driver and the insurance company for the rear driver should accept responsibility.
Insurance companies, however, are not always willing to assume fault even when the case is clear. Even if the rear driver’s insurer is willing to pay out compensation to you, there may be a dispute over how much is appropriate for each victim or over how extensive the injuries and damages are. An Austin accident attorney with experience in tailgating claims can help those who were in the front vehicle who suffered injuries or damages to prove their case and fight for full compensation.
While the tailgating driver is usually to blame because he failed to leave a safe following distance, drivers in the front vehicle can sometimes cause or contribute to accidents if they stop suddenly and abruptly without justification. If a driver who was in the rear car believes the motorist in front was responsible for causing the crash and hurting him, this can be a very difficult case to prove. An Austin tailgating accident attorney should be consulted early for help under these circumstances.
What Makes Tailgating So Dangerous?
Tailgating limits the amount of time a driver has to react if they suddenly need to stop or maneuver the vehicle to avoid an accident. Tailgating is a leading cause of rear-end accidents, and, unfortunately, rear-end accidents are common. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Association, in 2018, rear-end accidents were responsible for 32.3 percent of all collisions involving moving motor vehicles, injuring 594,000 and killing 2,239.
Sadly, these deaths and injuries are preventable. Tailgating affects the time that’s available to first perceive an emergency traffic situation and then react to it. When a driver’s perception and reaction time are cut short, they are at greater risk of causing a rear-end accident.
In its Texas Driver Handbook, the Texas Department of Public Safety advises drivers to keep a four-second gap between cars when traveling above 30 mph in good road conditions. When driving under poor road conditions, such as wet roads, they should allow even more time so that there’s a bigger safety cushion between the vehicles and more time to react in the event of a sudden road hazard. Those few seconds can be the difference between life and death.
If you encounter a tailgating driver, in addition to keeping your four-second safety cushion, the best ways to keep yourself safe are to:
- Maintain safe driving speeds at all times
- Safely change lanes or pull over to the side of the road to allow the tailgating driver to pass
- Avoid braking or antagonizing the tailgating driver
- Stay calm
- Do not engage with them as they pass
- Stay to the farthest right lane, where slower drivers commonly travel
- Resist the urge to follow or retaliate
Practicing defensive driving strategies and maintaining a safe distance from the vehicles in front of and behind you, when possible, will put you in the best possible position to avoid a tailgating accident. However, sometimes no matter how cautious and careful you are on the roads, it’s impossible to avoid being hit by a reckless or careless driver. When you’re injured in an accident caused by no fault of your own, it’s important to talk to a skilled personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal options.
What Kinds of Injuries Are Common in Austin Tailgating Accidents?
Car accident injuries come in many forms and may range from cuts and scrapes to traumatic brain injuries. Common injuries suffered in Austin tailgating accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Seatbelt injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Back, Spine, and Spinal cord Injuries
Texas Tailgating Accident Statistics
Traveling at high speeds without leaving an appropriate distance between your own vehicle and the vehicle in front of you is a recipe for disaster. Tailgating statistics underscore just how dangerous this common practice is. In 2018, the Texas Department of Transportation reported that Texas car accidents caused by tailgating, or being “followed too closely,” resulted in:
- 24,171 total accidents
- 17 deaths
- 204 suspected serious accidents
- 2,138 non-incapacitating accidents
- 5,660 potential injury accidents
- 16,043 unknown injury accidents
- 109 unknown severity accidents
Getting Legal Help After an Austin Tailgating Accident
If you were injured by a driver who failed to leave adequate space between their vehicle and yours, you could be owed significant compensation. Let an Austin tailgating accident lawyer like those at The Loewy Law Firm help you get the justice and compensation you need and deserve. When a driver fails to exercise caution on the road and harms someone, they should be held accountable. Let us put our skills to work for you. Call us for a 100% free consultation to discuss your case and how we can help today.