Tailgating isn’t just annoying—it can cause accidents

Perhaps you have been driving on the highway, obeying the traffic laws and keeping your eyes on the road. The car behind you is getting closer and closer. Soon, its bumper is practically touching yours, and the driver doesn't seem to care.

Most of us have been tailgated when driving. Yes, it’s obnoxious—but more than that, it can also be dangerous. A recent study has shown that tailgaters are not just annoying. They can also cause traffic jams and serious accidents.

The truth about traffic jams

Recently, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory conducted a study on the best way to program cars. While conducting its research, the lab inadvertently came across an unknown effect of tailgating. It turns out that tailgating can cause what is known as a phantom traffic jam. This is when traffic seems to slow down without any good reason—no accident, no mechanical malfunctions, no bad weather. The reason for this is often tailgating. Because tailgaters drive so close to other cars, they must frequently slam on their brakes with little notice. This causes a chain reaction in which the cars behind them must slam on their brakes as well, resulting in a traffic jam.

The dangers of tailgating

Tailgating is not only maddeningly annoying, but very dangerous. When one car leaves very little space between its bumper and that of the car in front of it, it has only a brief window of time to react if the other car slams on its brakes. If the tailgater can’t brake in time, they will rear-end the other vehicle. This could result in a minor fender-bender or a serious car accident. Severe rear-ending accidents can result in whiplash, neck injuries and back injuries—not to mention expensive damage to the car. Drivers or passengers who are injured in accidents caused by tailgating may wish to consult a personal injury attorney.

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Steven H. Dorne

Attorney Steven H. Dorne

Attorney Steven H. Dorne is an accomplished lawyer who practices in state and federal courts in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. He brings more than 30 years of experience and a long record of success to each case. His law practice is distinguished by careful preparation and thorough analysis of each case...

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