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Tailgating and How Fast Your Vehicle Can Stop

By Hess & Nghiem on April 16, 2021

Not all cars have the same stop rate. In driver’s ed, you may have learned that the general rule of thumb is three to five car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you. However, that may not be enough depending on the model of vehicle you are driving.

Knowing the amount of space your car needs to stop safely can keep you from accidentally tailgating another vehicle.

The Different Stop Rates

Stop rates are largely dependent on the size, weight, and shape of the vehicle, as well as the capability of the vehicle’s brakes. Even a small and light car will have a hard stop stopping if its brakes are too worn out. The age of the car also plays a factor. New cars are designed to stop quickly, meaning that a 2020 model of a car could come to a complete stop in just a couple seconds. Older cars will not have the same level of capability, however. So, a car that is a few decades old may take several seconds more to slow down before stopping, so the stopping distance for that older car is much farther.

On top of that, the amount of space you need for a safe stop will also depend on how fast you are going. The faster you speed, the more ground you cover over the course of a few seconds, and the harder your brakes have to work in order to slow you down. Typically, at 30 mph, you will need almost 90 feet to come to a complete stop. At 60 mph, you will need 268 feet in order to stop. That is the equivalent of 18 car lengths.

The truth is that coming to a complete and safe stop requires more than just slamming on the brakes. No matter how new your car is, if there isn’t enough space between you and the person in front of you, you will not be able to stop in time and avoid a collision.

Why Tailgating Is Dangerous

That is precisely what makes tailgating so dangerous. When drivers become aggressive and slip into road rage, they have a tendency to start tailgating. This is a tactic often used to try and force the car in front to speed up. It can be effective, as most drivers understand the dangers of tailgating, and think that speeding up will make the car behind them back off. However, when drivers do become aggressive, even giving them what they want will not pull them out of their rage.

Instead, they will likely continue to tailgate, leaving you in the exact same position, only you and the driver behind you are driving even faster now. The more you speed up to try and accommodate the aggressive driver, the more stopping distance that driver will need. If you do have to come to a sudden stop — for example, if an animal suddenly runs across the road and you hit the brakes to avoid it — the car behind you is unlikely to have enough space to stop and will slam into you.

While rear-end collisions are often treated as minor accidents, a serious tailgating collision is nowhere near a fender bender. When a vehicle slams into your car from behind, it can cause you to lose control of your car, pushing it out of control and potentially knocking into other vehicles or objects. Even if that doesn’t happen, you can still suffer serious injuries with soft tissue damage, broken bones, or a concussion. Tailgating is no laughing matter.

Who to Talk To After a Santa Ana Car Accident

If an aggressive driver slammed into you, then you deserve fair and proper compensation. To get just that, you need to file a claim against the driver, and the first step of any successful claim is to speak with an experienced Santa Ana car accident attorney. We at HN Injury Lawyers can give you the legal representation you need to get the compensation you deserve. To speak with a member of our excellent legal team, call us at (657) 333-5726 today. We are ready to help you.

Posted in: Car Accidents