A new STUDY has found that tailgating in Georgia ranks as the second-worst in the United States – and no, not the fun and enjoyable sport tailgating parties, but drivers following too closely. A large portion of Atlanta accidents is directly caused by vehicles following too closely to the vehicles in front of them.
Fortunately, this same study also shows that Georgia residents are among the highest users of seatbelts!
WHAT TYPES OF ACCIDENTS CAN FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY CAUSE?
There are many, but the most common are rear endings(fender benders). Following too closely can also lead to dangerous compensatory actions such as trying to swerve to avoid rear-ending someone, resulting in accidents with other vehicles around you. Swerving can even cause your vehicle to roll over, which is extremely dangerous! These accidents are not worth the absolute minuscule amount of time you may (or may not) save by driving closer to vehicles in front of you. Getting into a dangerous accident will cause you to lose a LOT more time than does practicing safe driving.
WHAT IF I THINK I AM SAFE?
The issue with following too closely isn’t always obvious. Of course, giving yourself more time to slow down or stop in relation to the vehicle in front of you is massively important. One way in which you may think it is safe to be close to the vehicle in front of you is when you are stopping at red lights or stop signs. When you are stopped, you cannot cause an accident – right? Well, we frequently see cases where 2 cars were parked, and a third comes in too fast and causes all 3 vehicles to collide.
Another possibility is that the vehicle in front of you may be stopping to avoid a person, animal, vehicle, or road hazard. If you are driving too close to the vehicle, you may be forced to go around them as you cannot stop in time. This could lead to you striking the very thing that caused the driver to stop in the first place. Appropriate follow distance gives drivers time to evaluate situations, and choose the best course of action.
I CANNOT BE BLAMED FOR AN ACCIDENT IF I WAS STOPPED, RIGHT?
Another issue with following too closely has nothing to do with vehicles actually moving. When pulling up to a red light or stop sign with a driver in front of you, do not pull right up to them. Why? Well if you are the driver stopped behind the 1st vehicle, and a car hits you from behind, which then causes YOUR vehicle to strike the one in front of you, YOU may be liable for that driver’s injuries and property damage.
In cases like these, it doesn’t matter how safe of a driver you are, being stopped can be just as dangerous and should be treated with the same respect as though you were moving. The easiest way to think about it is to ALWAYS keep a safe distance between you and vehicles in front of you, regardless of speed, or lack thereof.
WHAT IS A SAFE DISTANCE?
There are many sources out there that say it is best to have a 2-4 car distance, or 2-5 seconds between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. Even further, Georgia is known for its icy winters and heavy rains. Your follow distance should be even longer depending on your speed and hazardous driving conditions. If you are going slow, you may feel more comfortable driving closer to the vehicle in front of you, if you are going fast you may want to provide the driver in front of you a significantly larger distance. An easy way to think about what safe distance may mean in your current situation, imagine if the vehicle in front of you abruptly slammed on its brakes. Would you be able to stop in time? Would the abruptness of YOUR vehicle braking cause an accident with those driving behind you? Would you have adequate time to process what is happening if something were to happen, or would it be too late even before the accident took place?
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT…
Accidents like these can be completely avoided with the appropriate practice of safe driving. Although this could be said for all accidents, fender benders are by far the most common accident suffered by drivers. By giving those around you appropriate distance to change lanes, slow down, speed up, turn, or whatever else, it gives YOU the power to avoid dangerous situations. Here is some additional information about these laws. It is always good to educate yourself about laws you are not sure about, or that you are not familiar with.