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Are You A Tailgater?

Updated on March 6, 2014

Tailgate Analysis

Evil lurks in the traffic.

Imagine yourself strapping your child in a seat belt or a car seat. You get in the car and you drive as safe as you can to get your child to school or daycare or whatever function you are going to. You think you are being safe, and then you look in your rear view mirror. Suddenly your day has gone from beautiful and fun to stressful and fearful. All because you looked up into your rear view mirror and noticed an SUV on your rear end bumper. Thoughts rush through your head, What if I have to stop fast? What if someone cuts me off and I have to slam on my breaks? Will the guy behind me have time to stop before he injures my two kids or worse kills us when he hits us in the back? What should I do? If I call the police he will be gone before they get to me.

So for your safety and the children’s safety you slow down hoping the SUV will pass. But it doesn't, instead it slows down and speeds up trying to get you to go faster or move over. After a few miles the SUV turns off and goes into a gas station. At this point you are so angry at that person all you want to do is go back and give them an ear full on what he just put you through. But for the sake of you children you drive on.

This is called tailgating, and it is a form of reckless driving. In some places they call it car bullying. That’s right; Tailgating is just another form of bullying. It has been going on for years. The person in the back thinks you are going to slow so they move up close to the back of your car thinking you will go faster. But really all it has done is place your life into their hands. One wrong move and both individuals will be injured or killed. It’s not worth it.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of serious injury and death in the United States. More than 33,000 people were killed and over 2.2 million were injured in motor vehicle accidents in 2009. Rear-end collisions account for 28 percent of all crashes. However since 2009 these readings have increased due to the increase of automobiles on the road and speed limit increase in some areas. Now it is reported that a rear-end crash occurs every 17 seconds in the U.S. Funded by auto insurers, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), around 2 million whiplash claims are filed every year. An estimated 200,000 of those are serious enough to cause long-term medical problems, And is more susceptible to taller people according to medical experts.

Do The Crime, Get The Fine!

Ohio State Highway Patrol located at the Ohio University Southern Campus in Ironton, Ohio.
Ohio State Highway Patrol located at the Ohio University Southern Campus in Ironton, Ohio. | Source

Is Tailgating Illegal?

The answer to this question is, yes. Tailgating is illegal and anyone violating this can be fined and or imprisonment, depending on the situation. In some states there are posted traffic signs warning motorist they will get a ticket if they are caught doing it.

According to Ohio State Patrol this is a common citation in Ohio. The Ohio Revised Code refers to it as “following to close (space between moving vehicle).” Fines would vary from court to court.

Listed below is information regarding the law as it relates to 4511.34 Violation of Proper Space between Vehicles (Following to Close) in the State of Ohio.

Violation of Proper Space Between Vehicles - Following To Close

  • · Criminal Offense: Yes - Misdemeanor of the Fifth Degree (Minor Misdemeanor)
  • · Moving or Nonmoving Violation: Moving Violation
  • · Point On Driver’s License: 2
  • · Conviction Penalties: no incarceration, $150 maximum fine

Violation of Proper Space Between Vehicles - Following To Close - If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense

  • · Criminal Offense: Yes - Misdemeanor of the Forth Degree
  • · Moving or Nonmoving Violation: Moving Violation
  • · Point On Driver’s License: 2
  • · Conviction Penalties: not more than 30 days incarceration, $250 maximum fine

Violation of Proper Space Between Vehicles - Following To Close - If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses

  • · Criminal Offense: Yes - Misdemeanor of the Third Degree
  • · Moving or Nonmoving Violation: Moving Violation
  • · Point On Driver’s License: 2
  • · Conviction Penalties: not more than 60 days incarceration, $500 maximum fine

Penalties may vary in different states.

According to Larry Copeland, Author of “States get tough on driving menaces”, Florida leading the way in the southern states first offence is a $500 fine, and/or jail time, for a second offence the fine increases, plus you are required to take a safety driving course and you must pass it in order to get your license back.

But the Southern states aren’t stopping there.

Georgia now adds an extra $200 fine to the tickets of "super speeders" -- defined as drivers caught traveling more than 75 mph on two-lane roads or 85 mph on any road. The new fine is expected to generate $23 million a year for state trauma hospitals.

Kansas' new "Right Lane Law," which went into effect July 1, makes it illegal to drive in the far-left lane of multi-lane highways except when passing or turning left or when instructed by traffic-control devices or officers. According to Mark Engholm, Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper The law is designed to reduce road rage and prevent motorists from trying risky maneuvers.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee joined forces in July for "Take Back Our Highways," a week-long dragnet for dangerous drivers. Officers cited drunken and aggressive drivers, speeders and drivers not using seat belts.

Keeping a safe braking distance

Do Your Own Research.

It seems that tailgating is not just a problem in the United States. One would think that drivers education would teach students not to drive to close. Perhaps those that tailgate was absent the day the instructor went over that. So If you were one of those students that missed that session of driving to close and are confused on the proper distance. There are many videos and documents on safe driving tips you can acquire on the net or from your local DMV. If you are still totally clue less and not sure what is considered to close. Please hang up your keys so the rest of us do not have to deal with you.

Safe Distant Law

Do you think the penalties should be increased concerning safe driving distance?

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In past history it has been proven that people will not do something if they do not have the finances to do so. Many will go in debt for something, but for the most part if it is costly they will defer from it. It will be interesting to me to find a research paper done on these states that have increased their fines and if it has lowered the amount of aggression driving since the increase.

Tailgating, People Behaving Badly

Why do people do it?

With such stiff laws on tailgating, why do so many people do it? Well, let us take a look at the driver who is doing the tailgating. These are some of the reasons they do it.

  • Do not like anyone in front of them
  • In a hurry to get where they want to go
  • Disregards for the person in front of them
  • Likes to drive fast
  • Running late for work

I’m sure there are other reasons but this is just a few.

Now let us see the effects of the tailgating by looking at the driver in the front vehicle.

The drive becomes;

  • Nervous
  • Anxious
  • Aggravated
  • Helpless cause there is nothing they can do about it.
  • Fearful for their children in the back seat and their own life

I’m sure there are other feelings, this is a few.

Possible results to this behavior;

  • Driver in front feels tapping on the brake will tell the driver behind them to back-off
  • An animal runs out in front of the front car causing them to slam on their brakes. The car in back does not have enough time to stop and crashes into the rear end of the front car.
  • The front car hits a slippery place in the road. The rear car does not have enough time to react and hits the car in front.

I can run scenarios by you all day, but In short, unless you are a certified rescuer, No one has the right to put someone else’s life into their own hands. This is exactly what you do when you drive aggressively. Even though that person is in front and can determine how fast you go. It is your responsibility to maintain a safe distance behind them. Regardless of how rude and irresponsible you are, think about the children in the car, the elderly and any human life in that automobile. And if you are so dead set against the human kind, think about the gold fish the three year old in the back seat is holding to take home. She has already picked out a name for it.

So the next time you get into your car or truck or whatever it is you drive. Allow yourself enough time to get where you need to go. Always leave enough distance between you and the drive in front of you. This will prevent you from hitting them or if someone hits you, it will keep you from moving forward and hitting someone in front of you. After all your local Law Enforcement Officers are not God and cannot be everywhere. So it is up to us to help them keep our road ways safe, and by that I mean everyone drive safe and responsible.

Follow The Rules

Stopping Distance - Jeremy Clarkson


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Jack Aylor 

    4 years ago

    Very interesting information, Tailgating is very dangerous

  • profile image

    Paula Matney 

    4 years ago

    This story is interesting. I hate it when I am tailgated.


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