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Tailgaters cause countless collisions

July 30, 2012
The Daily News

Drivers who don't think ahead may find themselves bumper to bumper with the car in front of them. To Michigan law enforcement officers, it's called "not being able to stop within an assured clear distance," also known as a violation of the basic speed law.

Most of us call it tailgating. It is the most common cause of traffic crashes.

Drivers who follow other vehicles too closely cause countless collisions - from fender benders to violent crashes

To avoid becoming another traffic crash statistic, always think ahead of your car.

Stopping your car safely requires being alert, having a good reaction time, and knowing the mechanical limitations of your vehicle.

Always plan ahead. Allow no less than two seconds between vehicles during the daytime, three seconds at night, and four seconds during inclement weather such as during rain, snow, or icy conditions. Be especially cautious when approaching stop lights, intersections, and when changing lanes. Anticipate potentially hazardous situations that could cause the driver in front of you to stop suddenly.

Remember, too, that alcohol, some types of prescription drugs, fatigue, and your emotional state will affect your reaction time and could lengthen your stopping distance.

"Most drivers who tailgate likely don't realize how dangerous it can be," says Lt. Tony Burrell of the Wisconsin State Patrol Northeast Region. "For your own safety and the safety of others on the road, you don't want to be the driver who causes a crash or fails to avoid one because you were following too closely and couldn't stop when the unexpected happens."

According to Wisconsin law, drivers "shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent" based on the speed of the vehicle, road conditions, and traffic.

"During the heavily traveled summer driving season and throughout the year, it's always smart to wear a safety belt just in case your vehicle is hit in the rear by a tailgater," adds Lt. Burrell. "Taking a few seconds to ensure that you and your passengers are buckled up can be a lifesaver."



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