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One of the most common sights on the road is tailgating. Sometimes tailgating is intentional, whether out of road rage or to pressure the car ahead of you to go faster. Other times, people tailgate cars out of habit. However, there are many reasons why you should not tailgate a car. Here are five of them.

1. Tailgating a car is illegal

Volvo XC90 tailgating another car
Volvo XC90 Tailgating a Car | Stefan Sauer/picture alliance via Getty Images

In most U.S. states, it is illegal to tailgate a car. Since what legally constitutes tailgating is difficult to measure, this law is rarely enforced. However, the general rule is to leave at least a three-second following distance behind other cars. In adverse weather conditions, leave even more space. In fact, leaving a safe following distance is one of the most basic things that you are taught when you first get your driver’s license. However, many drivers seem to have forgotten this. 

2. Tailgating is dangerous and can injure and kill people

To put it bluntly, when you tailgate another car, you put the lives of both yourself and others at risk. It’s particularly egregious to tailgate another driver to get them to go faster. Essentially, you threaten a person with a very large and heavy machine that can maim and kill — just so you can get them to do what you want.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions are the most common types of injury-causing accidents, at around 30%. Each year, 950,000 people are injured, and 2,000 people die in rear-end collisions. Most of these rear-end collisions could be avoided if cars don’t follow so closely.

3. Tailgating doesn’t make other cars go faster

In most cases, tailgating other drivers won’t make them go faster. One of the most bizarre occurrences on the road is when there’s a lineup of 10 cars, all tailgating each other. It’s as if people somehow think that tailgating the car ahead of them will magically make all of the other cars go faster. 

Also, be honest with yourself. When you follow another car closely, how often is the car actually going below the speed limit? Many drivers will consider slow driving as anything that’s less than five miles over the speed limit. When you tailgate a car that’s already driving over the speed limit, you’re essentially saying, “You’re not breaking the law as much as I want you to do, so I’m going to intimidate you to do so.” 

4. Tailgating a car is ego nonsense

Some drivers will tailgate cars no matter how fast the car in front of them is moving. This is just ego nonsense. It’s the illusion of power, the illusion of being in control. Do you really think a tiny boost to your ego for a brief moment is worth putting people’s lives at risk?

5. Tailgating creates a stressful and less enjoyable driving experience

Ask yourself the question, “What a more enjoyable driving experience: Viewing the scenery around you or the rear bumper of another car?” Now ask yourself the question, “What’s more relaxing: Driving right behind a car, having to constantly be on guard, or having some space and room to maneuver?” 

The answers to both of these questions are obvious. With this in mind, it’s absurd that so many people lack the awareness that when they tailgate, they create a stressful and unhappy driving experience not only for other drivers but also for themselves. With tailgating, like so many things in life, people choose the illusion of being in control over happiness, so everyone suffers. 

Again, the remedy to tailgating is awareness. Be aware that you put people’s lives at risk when you tailgate. Be aware that you create unhappiness and stress. Furthermore, realize that when you tailgate, you’re engaging in unhealthy egocentric behavior. There are many more productive and healthy ways to feel good about yourself. Leave some space behind other cars, relax, and enjoy the ride.


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