Tailgating, or following too closely behind another driver, is considered a form of aggressive driving. It's extremely dangerous. However, it can be easy to overlook this fact because it happens so often.
Tailgating is one of the top causes of rear-end accidents, which can be deadly. Unfortunately, tailgating happens way too often because people justify it because they are in a hurry. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that approximately 80 percent of drivers admitted to experiencing "significant" anger or road rage at least one time behind the wheel in the last year. These feelings of anger and rage can lead to concrete actions, like tailgating, which can substantially increase the chances of a crash.
AAA Foundation identified many behaviors that the Foundation classifies as aggressive and as potential collision causes. Some of the common behaviors that motorists engage in out of frustration include driving too fast and cutting off other cars, then slowing down intentionally. Some drivers will weave in and out of traffic when they are annoyed, while others don't signal before changing lanes or they intentionally block a lane so another car cannot get past or move over into the lane.
When drivers do these types of aggressive driving behaviors, they create a significant risk of a collision occurring. AAA Foundation reviewed data from accidents that occurred between 2003 and 2007 and found that at least one driver had engaged in a potentially aggressive action before half of all deadly car accidents. If the driver had not given into his anger and made an aggressive driving move, the fatal car accident might never have occurred.
There are things drivers can do to try to reduce the chances they will be victims of an aggressive driving accident, and to try to reduce the chances that they will be the cause of a collision caused by anger or road rage. Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association identified some of the recommended behaviors to try to prevent an aggression-related collision.
RMIIA advised drivers not to tailgate, cut off other motorists, or make any type of gestures. Drivers were also told to not travel too slowly in the left lane, to use turn signals, to allow others to merge, and to be a courteous driver. These types of behaviors can help you to avoid angry actions that endanger others and can help you to avoid causing rage in other motorists that could lead those other motorists to exhibit road rage against you. They're also just common sense, courteous behaviors.
Motorists are also advised to steer clear of drivers who are angry. Give them as much space as possible, do not make eye contact, do not try to engage them, and definitely don't let yourself get angry and start behaving unsafely because of the other motorist's aggression. If you are concerned for your safety because of an aggressive driver, your best course of action is to safely get out of the way and to consider calling 911 for help if the risk is significant.