Why tailgating is so much more dangerous than people believe

Chances are good that as you made your way to work or school this morning, you observed some less than impressive -- and downright dangerous -- behavior by your fellow motorists from speeding and running red lights to texting and talking on smartphones.

If your travels took you to area highways or freeways here in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, it's highly likely that you also saw motorists engaging in what could best be described as extreme tailgating, leaving mere inches between their fender and the bumper of the vehicle directly in front of them.

The danger posed by tailgating, whether measured in feet or inches, is that the offending motorist will cause a rear-end collision in the event the motorist ahead has to apply the brakes for any reason.

In fact, consider the horrific chain-reaction crash that can result if multiple vehicles are engaged in this reckless conduct and traveling at speeds in excess of 60 miles-per-hour.

The unfortunate and alarming reality about tailgating is that many motorists are either dismissive of this very real danger or unaware that they are even creating such a traffic hazard.

Regardless of which category they fall into, however, motorists who follow too closely need to understand that they are breaking Wisconsin law, which declares in no uncertain terms that all drivers "shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway."

Given this reality, experts advise all motorists to ensure that they drive without distractions, and leave no fewer than two seconds between their car and the car ahead during daylight hours, increasing this amount to three seconds at night and four during less than ideal weather conditions.  

As to what those motorists who find themselves being tailgated can do, experts advise resisting the urge to react angrily, maintaining the proper speed and leaving sufficient space ahead so that the offending motorist can pass.

Always remember that if you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash caused by the negligence of another motorist that you have rights and you have options for seeking justice. 

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