Tailgating is illegal. It still happens very frequently and leads to a lot of car accidents, but it's technically against the law and offenders can theoretically be pulled over and ticketed.

However, laws are often not very clear about just what tailgating entails. They frequently just say that trailing drivers have to keep a reasonable and prudent distance. If they break this very loose standard, they may get a ticket.

Some experts have noted that this makes it a bit harder to enforce. It leaves room for interpretation. A rear driver may really believe he or she left a reasonable space when the front driver does not. One police official said it may be easier if the law had a direct regulation, such as saying the rear car could never be within 100 feet of the back bumper of the next car. Then, no matter what people "felt" was a safe distance, they'd have a rule to follow.

Why Specifics Aren't Used

However, one of the reasons that specifics are not used is that there are a ton of factors to consider, and not all situations are the same. For example, on a sunny summer day in Texas, stopping distances may be very short, so drivers can safely be close to one another. A driver who stays the same distance back on a snowy day in Michigan, though, may be driving recklessly. Snow, ice, water, gravel and many other factors can reducing stopping distances and increase danger. By saying the distance has to be reasonable and prudent, police are able to decide on a case-by-case basis if a driver was reckless or negligent.

Accidents and Compensation

Tailgating is frustrating even when it doesn't cause an accident and infuriating when it does. If you've been hit and injured by a negligent driver, be sure you know your rights to compensation.