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4/29/2013 - Four reasons why tailgating is a bad idea

Tailgating can lead to a multitude of issues for car owners.

Whether it's a two-lane, three or four-lane highway, the general consensus is that the lane farthest to the left is meant for passing. Once a car passes the next vehicle in line, it's supposed to return to its former track of road and proceed as it normally would.  But all too often, drivers decide to stay in the passing lane, unaware of this rule of the road, creating frustration for trailing motorists who are eager to move along.

While some drivers will exercise restraint and wait patiently until the leading car moves back to the other lane, some people will ride their bumper, hoping that the motorist will recognize that they'd like to pass. That being said, safety experts largely agree that this is often a recipe for disaster and may wind up doing more harm than good.

1. Raises risk for accident. Perhaps the most obvious reason cited for why tailgating a slow-moving driver is a bad idea is due to the fact that it increases the risk of getting into an accident. Improved brake performance allows cars to come to a stop more quickly, but there's only so much that can be done if there's a minimal gap on a roadway while traveling at speeds in excess of 65 mph.

2. Trailing vehicle is usually at-fault. Another argument that augurs against tailgating is who will likely be blamed for the accident should one occur. In most instances, even if the leading vehicle stopped short, the driver of the car that does the rear-ending will likely be blamed for causing the crash in the eyes of the auto insurance provider. While there are some exceptions to this rule, they are rare.

3. Dirties trailing vehicle. In the winter, it's exceedingly difficult to keep a car clean, due to the snow, ice, sand and salt that lines the streets. And unless a car or truck has exceptionally large mud flaps, closely following a vehicle will cause the windshield to become spotted with dirt that requires excessive amounts of windshield washer fluid to clean it.

4. Incites road rage. Finally, closely following a car can lead to road rage. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, while there's no specific data for accidents directly related to road rage, officials estimate that approximately two-thirds of all accidents are linked to aggressive driving behavior.

So, what's the solution? As frustrating as it may be, traffic officials say motorists are better off waiting it out, as the leading vehicle will eventually move to the other lane in order to access their exit. Alternatively, drivers can look for their chance to pass in the other lane, once an opportunity presents itself and safety is adhered to.

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