How to Protect Yourself From a Tailgating Accident

Check out our blog. We cover everything from car accidents to employment law and other hot legal topics.

Start the Conversation Today

Key Takeaways:

  • Gain an understanding of what the definition of a tailgating accident is and what can happen.
  • Learn reasons why drivers tailgate and how they frequently cause accidents.
  • Find out what to do if a driver is tailgating you while you are on the road, and also learn what NOT to do so you can try to stay safe.
  • Obtain answers to commonly asked questions regarding tailgating accidents in New York.
  • Learn why you should consult with an experienced New York car accident attorney at The Coppola Firm if you are involved in a tailgating or other type of car accident.

As seasoned lawyers in New York State with extensive experience in automobile accident cases, we have witnessed the devastating impact of tailgating accidents firsthand. These incidents, often resulting from a driver following too closely behind another vehicle, can lead to severe injuries and even fatalities.

Buffalo and the rest of Western New York’s congested roadways and dangerous winter weather conditions make understanding and preventing tailgating accidents crucial for every driver. In this article, our car accident lawyers explore effective strategies to protect yourself from the dangers of tailgating.

From defensive driving techniques to understanding New York’s traffic laws, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to stay safe on the road and avoid becoming a statistic in the growing number of tailgating-related accidents. To learn more about how The Coppola Firm can help, contact us at 716-839-9700 for a free consultation for your personal injury claim.

What is a Tailgating Accident?

Vehicles following other vehicles too closely is known as “tailgating” and violates New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1129(a). This law requires all motorists to leave a safe amount of distance in both the vehicle in front and back of them, stating:

“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”

When motorists do not abide by this law, accidents often occur. Aside from a motor vehicle accident, a driver violation of § 1129 can result in:

  • Fines ($150 for the first offense and a surcharge; fines increase with subsequent offenses)
  • Four points on your driving record
  • Increased insurance rates

New York categorizes tailgating as a “serious traffic offense.” If you amass 11 or more points in 18 months (for tailgating, speeding, and other traffic violations), your poor driving behavior could result in you receiving a suspension of your license.

Why Does Tailgating Happen?

Tailgating can occur for several reasons. Any of the following scenarios can lead to injuries or chain reaction crashes.

  • A vehicle suddenly brakes, and you do not have enough time to stop, causing you to slam into it.
  • A car behind you follows too closely, and a child, biker, or animal darts in front of you, causing you to brake unexpectedly and suffer a rear-end collision.
  • A motorist follows too closely behind you in wintry weather conditions and hits an ice patch, sliding into you and causing a car crash.
  • A driver is in a rush, running late for work and riding your bumper. When traffic suddenly slows, they slam into you, causing a rear-end accident.
  • A driver is stuck in heavy traffic and does not want to let other cars merge in, leading to a collision.

Tailgating is dangerous in any weather, but especially in inclement conditions. In Buffalo and Western New York, we all know how weather can quickly change safe road conditions to icy roads and low visibility, especially when factoring in lake-effect weather from Lake Erie.

Types of Tailgating Drivers

While the above scenarios are ways tailgating accidents occur, certain behaviors can also lead to tailgating accidents. The following is a list of different types of tailgaters.

  • Aggressive drivers
  • Distracted drivers
  • Unaware drivers
  • Impatient drivers
  • Complacent drivers
  • Ignorant drivers
  • Drivers with road rage

Tailgating accidents are totally preventable. There is no good reason for a driver to jeopardize the safety of themselves and others on the road by tailgating.

What To Do If Someone is Tailgating You

woman looking in rear view mirror

If you find yourself being tailgated, be proactive so you have enough reaction time to avoid a collision.

  • Maintain a safe following distance. Try to navigate away from another vehicle if they keep tailgating you, and follow the 3-second defensive driving rule.
  • Maintain the speed limit. Following the speed limit increases safety for everyone. Do not speed if someone tailgates you. Instead, try to switch to the right lane safely.
  • Allow the driver to pass you. Get out of the way, stay to the right, pull over if necessary, and let the driver move ahead.
  • Remain calm. Getting upset and responding will only exacerbate the situation.
  • Call the police. If the driver is a clear hazard, and you fear for your safety, you can call the police to report it.

Remember, you cannot control the aggressive driving actions of other motorists, but you can choose how you react. Being proactive can help you avoid a rear-end crash and associated injuries, such as whiplash, back injuries, and traumatic brain injury.

What NOT To Do If You Are Being Tailgated

In a tailgating situation, you also want to avoid certain behaviors or actions. Avoid the following behaviors.

  • Increasing speed
  • Responding with angry gestures, yelling, or road rage
  • “Brake checking” or slamming on brakes

Importantly, keep cool and do not become a tailgater yourself if someone pressures you from behind to move faster.

Why Clients Partner with The Coppola Firm

The Coppola Firm is an empathetic and compassionate Buffalo, New York law firm that believes in fierce advocacy, honorable approaches, and being responsive to our clients. Our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience practicing law in New York State. Clients appreciate our dedication and personalized attention to each injury claim as we make it our policy to listen to clients and create custom solutions for them.

Recent Testimonial

“David Goodman went above and beyond to guide me through my case. I was blessed to have his knowledge and expertise. He took away my anxiety of going through such a traumatic experience. There are not enough words to express my gratitude.” — Lisa R.

Frequently Asked Questions

The personal injury attorneys at The Coppola Firm often receive questions about tailgating. Here, we provide answers to these important questions.

Who is at Fault in a Tailgating Accident in New York State?

Drivers following too closely are considered liable if they hit another vehicle. Typically, motorists who rear-end other vehicles are at fault.

Is Tailgating Road Rage?

Tailgating is aggressive behavior, and aggressive driving is categorized as a traffic violation. While tailgating can be a road rage behavior, road rage has a specific meaning in New York law and is a criminal law violation.

Keep a Cool Head With The Coppola Firm On Your Side

Did you or a loved one suffer an injury in a tailgating accident? The personal injury lawyers at The Coppola Firm have extensive experience representing accident claims, negotiating with insurance companies, and fighting for the fair compensation our clients deserve.

We are a woman-led law firm, and our attorneys have many decades of collective experience. We pride ourselves on providing quality legal services to each case. To set up your free case evaluation for your personal injury claim, call us today at 716-839-9700 or fill out our convenient contact form.

Lisa Coppola

Written by Lisa Coppola

Founder of The Coppola Firm

Lisa A. Coppola, Esq. understands the challenges her clients face, whether they’re starting a new business, taking their existing operations in a new direction, or facing a claim or threat.

Blog Categories


Speak With the Lawyers at The Coppola Firm

NAICS Code: 541100

© The Coppola Firm
Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a future outcome.

Call Us Now Message Us