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Beware of tailgaters on West Virginia roads

You’ve no doubt heard the songs about the beautiful country roads of West Virginia. While there are, indeed, many scenic roadways throughout the state, there are also busy interstate highways and congested neighborhood streets. No matter how cautious and alert you are at the wheel, if a nearby driver is exhibiting unsafe maneuvers, you’re at risk for collision and injury. One issue that causes many roadway problems is tailgating.  

You never know when you might have to hit your brakes as you are traveling along a West Virginia road. If the driver behind you hasn’t left enough space between his or her vehicle and yours, it’s a recipe for disaster if you have to come to an unexpected stop or slow down because of sudden change in the flow of traffic. Keeping several things in mind can help you steer clear of tailgaters.  

Know how much distance should be between vehicles 

There aren’t specific traffic laws that require you to keep an exact distance between your vehicle and another car in front of you. The same goes for someone traveling behind you on the road. There are, however, recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding distance between vehicles on the road.  

The NHTSA has stated that motorists are safest when they maintain three to four seconds of distance between vehicles. To determine how many seconds of distance you are from a vehicle in front of you, simply choose a landmark on the roadside. When the car in front passes the landmark, begin counting. It should take three to four seconds before your vehicle passes the same point. If it doesn’t take that long, you’re traveling too closely, according to safety recommendations from the NHTSA. 

Always remain calm and avoid roadway aggression 

You might have heard of people slamming on their brakes to “signal” a tailgater to back off. This is always a bad idea because it not only escalates the situation, it places you, the driver, behind you and all others in your vicinity at risk for collision. It’s best to remain calm and consider other options to reduce your risk for an accident.  

Things you can do to distance yourself from a tailgater 

The following list includes several options that may help you get away from a tailgater on the road:  

  • If it’s safe to change lanes, do so, and let the tailgater pass you. 
  • Maintain a consistent speed, enabling the tailgater to change lanes. 
  • Take the nearest exit or pull to the side of the road to get away from the tailgater, if you can do so in a safe manner.  

Remember that slamming on your brakes for no reason might wind up causing a collision. When your goal is to safely distance yourself from another vehicle, it’s best to avoid sudden, unexpected maneuvers.  

If a tailgater hits you 

Rear-end collisions often result in injuries that can lead to chronic health problems, such as whiplash. The jolt of being hit from behind can cause severe injuries to your brain, neck, spinal cord and upper body. If another driver’s negligence causes you to suffer injury in a collision, the driver in question can be held accountable for damages, which may include medical bills and other expenses associated with the incident. 

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