Most motorists have been guilty of tailgating out on the road at one point or another. Maybe you have, too. Whether it’s because you’re in a hurry, feeling impatient, or you’re just not paying close enough attention, you end up following too closely behind the car in front of you and breaking those “rules of the road” you learned back in drivers’ education class.
It doesn’t matter if tailgating happens on purpose or is just an act of carelessness. It’s always potentially dangerous, and it often results in accidents and injuries. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one-third of all car crashes involve rear-end collisions.
At Silver & Silver, home to some of the leading personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia, PA, we see the negative consequences of tailgating firsthand, every day. As the winter season approaches, bringing the threat of inclement weather, it’s more important than ever for Pennsylvania drivers to be vigilant about their following distance.
We’re here to help if you are rear-ended by another driver and need an attorney to fight for the compensation you need to treat your injuries. Let’s take a closer look at how “safe following distance” is defined and how you can protect yourself.
What is Safe Following Distance?
Pennsylvania law stipulates that drivers should be “reasonable and prudent” regarding how closely they follow the car in front of them, taking into account road conditions and speed of travel. But let’s face it, people sometimes throw judgment out the window when they get behind the wheel.
There is an actual equation for calculating safe following distance, and it looks like this: Reaction Distance + Braking Distance = Stopping Distance.
Stopping Distance is how far your car travels (typically measured in feet) in the time between an incident happening on the road—such as the car in front of you slamming on its brakes—and your car coming to a complete stop. Reaction Distance and Braking Distance both factor into this, and here’s how.
First, Reaction Distance refers to how far the car travels between the time you realize you have to stop, and when you apply the brakes. Then, Braking Distance is the distance your car travels between braking and a full stop. Obviously, the faster you are traveling, the longer it will take to complete this process, and therefore, the distance you need to come to a stop safely will be greater.
Collisions happen when Stopping Distance exceeds the actual distance between cars.
The “Two-Second Rule”
In general, it’s recommended that drivers mind the “Two-Second Rule”— as a bare minimum— for maintaining safe following distance. This can be calculated by watching the car in front of you pass a stationary object like a telephone pole and counting “one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand.” Your car should not have passed the object before the two seconds have elapsed.
You might also have heard this concept referred to as the “Three-Second Rule.” Basically, you can’t go wrong by increasing your following distance, especially because bad weather and poor road conditions will increase both the Reaction Distance and Braking Distance we discussed earlier.
When Accidents Happen
No matter how careful you are to maintain a safe following distance behind the car in front of you and adjust your speed based on conditions, there’s no guarantee that the driver behind you will practice the same vigilance.
If you were rear-ended by a tailgating driver and suffered injuries as a result, you are entitled to fair compensation. However, proving the other driver’s negligence and fighting their insurance company for the full amount you deserve requires strong legal guidance.
To speak with our personal injury attorneys about a rear-end collision or to book a consultation with a car or truck accident lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, contact Silver & Silver today.