Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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tailgating car
Nobody likes a tailgater

Following too closely behind another motorist, or tailgating, is an aggressive driving behavior. You could be ticketed for tailgating. Worse, you could cause a crash, and end up hurting yourself and wrecking your car in the process.

Tailgating is a common cause for traffic crashes. So keep these thoughts in mind:

  • As lovely as you may think your vehicle is, the driver in front of you doesn't care to have it fill up his or her entire view in the rear view mirror.
  • Tailgating doesn't make the person in front of you drive any faster, and may just get them irritated with you.
  • If you must get ahead of the vehicle in front of you, maintain a proper distance and wait for a safe time in which to pass.

Wisconsin law is clear on tailgating: "The operator of a motor vehicle 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."

It's all about being able to stop your car in time in case the vehicle in front of you suddenly hits the brakes. Here are some tips:

  • Allow no less than 2 seconds between vehicles during the daytime.
  • Allow more leeway for different conditions: 3 seconds at night, and 4 seconds during inclement weather such as during rain, snow, or ice.
  • 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.

And if you happen to be the one BEING tailgated, you can head off aggressive driving behavior by allowing sufficient space in front of you so that an overtaking vehicle can enter and occupy that space without danger.

Questions about the content of this page:
Jill Benkert, jill.benkert@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: April 12, 2012

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