Is The Rear Driver Always At Fault For Tailgating Accidents?

Is The Rear Driver Always At Fault For Tailgating Accidents?

Is The Rear Driver Always At Fault For Tailgating Accidents?

Tailgating is a dangerous practice that can have far-reaching consequences for those who engage in it. In fact, tailgating accidents are the most common type of car accident and account for more than 30% of all crashes!

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there were 820 fatalities from rear-end collisions last year alone. This means that even if you’re not driving, being a passenger in the back seat puts you at risk as well. And let's not forget about motorcycles; they're especially vulnerable to injury when following too closely behind other vehicles. If this isn't enough to convince you how dangerous tailgating can be, then consider this: The insurance industry reports that up to 75% of car accidents are caused by rear-enders.

So who's to blame for these accidents? Below, we'll explain why tailgating accidents occur and how you can avoid them.

Tailgating & Road Rage

One of the most common reasons for tailgating is road rage. If a driver in front of another person cuts in too closely, it's not unlikely that they'll be tailgated and eventually slowed down to a stop so that the tailgating driver has a chance to pass.

Another common reason why drivers tailgate is impatience. When someone wants something they can't have, it's all too easy for them to lose control of their actions - including the urge to tailgate and speed up when it looks like traffic could be clearing soon.

However, while all of the above is true, it might surprise you to learn that sometimes the driver in the back is at fault.

Is The Rear Driver Truly At Fault?

When you think of tailgating, you probably envision a car ramming into the back of another car. And when this happens, it's easy to say that the rear driver is at fault because they're usually attempting to speed up and go around the vehicle in front of them. However, there are times when the rear driver isn't in the wrong, and this is especially true when it comes to lane changes. As stated in this article at, mistakes happen on the road, but when they do, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with injury lawyers. It’s better to be safe than sorry in cases like this. It would be in your best interest to always be in touch with your attorneys just in case. 

If you find yourself driving on a busy highway and moving into the same lane as another car, must you always wait for them to speed up before changing lanes? No. Just because a car is in front of you doesn't mean that they're going to accelerate when the time is right for you to change lanes. In this case, it's actually safer to go around them rather than wait for an uncertain amount of time until they speed up enough so that there's no contact between your cars when you switch lanes.

A common scenario that illustrates this is when a car changes into the lane in front of you while you're waiting to turn left. If this happens, do you always have the right-of-way? Not necessarily. If another car is coming up behind your car and moving at a rapid pace (meaning they could get around you before you can clear the intersection with your left turn), then it's actually safer for you to continue up the road and make a legal u-turn instead.

Prevention Of Tailgating Accidents

So what's the best way to prevent tailgating accidents?

The rule of thumb when it comes to following distance is "three seconds." This means that if you're in the left lane, the car in front of you should stay close for three seconds (and vice versa). However, if you're driving during bad weather or other hazardous conditions, then the three-second rule might be a little too short.

Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure: tailgating can have serious consequences that put both the driver and their passengers in danger.

Just remember that if you're the driver in the back, there are times where it's not your fault for tailgating. Even so, you should always take responsibility for staying safe and avoiding accidents by following three seconds behind at all times during inclement weather or road conditions. Being aware of the surrounding traffic is a good rule of thumb as well.

If you're the driver in front, you should do your best to prevent tailgating by avoiding hazardous weather and road conditions that may cause other drivers to tailgate close behind. You can also tap your breaks or flash your headlights if it looks like someone is getting too close. On the flip side, try not to tailgate other drivers, no matter how frustrating the situation may be.

Tailgating Accidents & The Law

Simply put, tailgating is illegal. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), "following too closely" falls under two categories: Aggressive driving and careless driving.

Both are punishable by law with fines, court appearances, and even imprisonment in the most severe cases. According to the legal professionals at,, after the accident, most insurance companies would try and downplay your claim in order to mitigate their expenses. Thus, it is always a good idea to have someone by your side who is well-versed with the law and escalate your chances of receiving fair compensation. 

When it comes to tailgating accidents, if you're ever unsure of who's at fault for following too close, you can always go to your local police station or DMV office to have them investigate further - just keep in mind that charges you face will depend on the severity of your offense and the conditions surrounding the accident.