Tailgating Truck Accident Attorneys in Boston, MA
Following too closely in traffic, also known as tailgating, is one of the top causes of Massachusetts trucking accidents. Tailgating is when one driver follows closely behind another leaving insufficient distance between the two vehicles to stop and avoid a collision if the lead vehicle slows or brakes abruptly.
It’s dangerous enough when the rear vehicle is a passenger car. When it’s a massive, 40-ton, 18-wheeler, a rear-end collision caused by tailgating very often proves catastrophic or fatal.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly a quarter of all crashes are rear-end accidents, resulting in 2,000 fatalities and roughly 950,000 injuries. A driver who tailgates substantially slashes their stopping distance (the length of road one needs to safely stop without striking the vehicle ahead). In general, it takes twice as long for a large truck to stop as it does a passenger car.Why Tailgating is So Dangerous
Tailgating has the critical impact of reducing both perception and reaction time. Perception is the amount of time a driver needs to see and then mentally process a highway hazard. Reaction time is how long it takes for a person’s body to initiate a physical response to that danger.
An alert driver on average will see and respond to a hazard in about two seconds. But according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, a tailgating driver’s perception and response time can be reduced by 50 percent or more. Factor in poor driving conditions like rain, road construction or nighttime – it’s even worse.
Although many have experienced the frustration of following behind a slow-moving vehicle, safety demands giving into the temptation to tailgate.Why Do Truck Drivers Tailgate?
The main reason truck drivers tailgate is for the same reason many motorists do: They’re in a hurry.
Research has proven that tailgating, like frequent lane changes, rarely results in anyone reaching their destination sooner. Instead, they increase the odds someone won’t make it at all. Despite this, people still do it thinking they’ll arrive sooner. Due to the intense pressure truckers are under, they’re often the biggest offenders. Their employers and customers expect them to get their freight from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. For the driver (who is sometimes also the owner of the truck), making or beating those tight deadlines means their costs go down and pay goes up. Sometimes, it’s the difference between keeping a job or account and losing it. It’s this kind of pressure that can lead to rushed, aggressive driving habits – like tailgating.
Truckers themselves have cited the following reasons for their tailgating:
- Car going under the speed limit;
- “Wishy-washy” drivers whose speed fluctuates (sometimes due to distraction);
- Preparing to pass;
- Road rage.
While the explanation is helpful for other drivers to understand the mindset of the men and women behind those big rigs, they’ll be tough to argue in court. So too will trucker distraction and fatigue, which also too frequently play a role.Liability in a Tailgating Truck Accident
Tailgating is against the law in Massachusetts. 720 CMR § 90.06(7) states that “Following Too Closely” is a prohibited offense. An individual is in violation of this law if they are following the vehicle ahead of them closer than what is “reasonable and prudent,” having due regard to the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and condition of the highway.”
Although “reasonable and prudent” may seem largely up for speculation, the reality in most tailgating crashes is the driver of the rear vehicle will need a very good reason for not allowing adequate stopping distance between themselves and the vehicle ahead if they hope to evade liability.
If you rear-end a large truck while tailgating, not only are YOU more likely to be the one seriously injured but obtaining compensation could prove difficult. (Talk to a truck accident lawyer before deciding a case is pointless though because Massachusetts comparative negligence laws allow a person to collect compensation for injury caused by another’s negligence – so long as the claimant isn’t more than 50 percent to blame. Truck crashes often have more than one causal factors, so it’s usually worth a free consultation, especially if your injuries are serious.)
If you’re injured by a tailgating trucker, there is a very good chance you have a solid claim to collect damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
The involvement of a commercial truck in one of these scenarios makes the maneuver especially risky – particularly when they’re carrying a full load. Large trucks can weigh upwards of 40 tons, and the physics of their inertia mean they need almost double the time to stop compared to the average car or even light truck. Not all truckers or even other motorists take this into consideration when sharing the road, and the consequences can be deadly.Who Is At Fault if the Lead Driver Suddenly Brakes?
Tailgating is one of the most common causes of rear-end collisions. Though the trailing driver may blame the one ahead for suddenly braking, in many of these instances, the rear driver is still deemed at fault because state law still requires motorists to leave enough space for the car ahead to stop if necessary.
The question of what is considered a safe following distance isn’t set and may vary depending on road conditions, such as wet surfaces, nighttime, lose gravel, stop-and-go traffic – and whether one of those vehicles is heavier.
But even in cases where the lead driver may have been distracted, all motorists are expected to anticipate sudden braking or stops from drivers ahead. It is possible that a court may find a lead driver comparatively negligent for a rear-end collision, but if the operator of the commercial vehicle failed to maintain a safe distance, they may well be deemed the more negligent party.
Working with an experienced truck accident lawyer in Boston will help ensure all potential legal remedies are explored.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 777-7777 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL