Why Following Too Closely is Dangerous and Illegal in Windsor

stock image of a vehicle following another vehicle too closelyFollowing vehicles too closely is a dangerous and illegal habit in Windsor, Ontario. Your vehicle needs a certain amount of time to stop. Other drivers around you also need time to react if you suddenly have to slam on the brakes. More importantly, failing to maintain a safe following distance can lead to a devastating crash.

At Greg Monforton & Partners, our experienced car accident lawyers in Windsor talk about what following too closely is in Ontario and how doing so can cause serious harm.

Need legal help after a crash? If you suffered injuries because of another driver’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your medical costs and other damages. Call our law offices anytime, 24/7 to discuss your situation and learn if you may have legal options.

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What Does it Mean to Follow Too Closely?

Tailgating, or following too closely, occurs when a driver does not leave sufficient space between their vehicle and the one in front. This reduces the time available to react to sudden stops, often leading to rear-end collisions. It is a common cause of accidents and is considered unsafe driving behavior.

In Windsor, Ontario, traffic laws mandate that drivers maintain a safe following distance. Failure to do so is a traffic violation, and can result in drivers being assessed with fines and demerit points.

What Is the Legal Definition of a Safe Following Distance in Ontario?

The Highway Traffic Act does not specify an exact distance. However, the law requires drivers to maintain sufficient space between their vehicle and the vehicle they are following to prevent a collision.

A common guideline for drivers is the “two-second rule,” which suggests staying at least two seconds behind the vehicle ahead under ideal driving conditions. There are times when drivers need to adjust/increase that following distance based on other factors.

What Other Factors Do Drivers Need to Consider When Behind Another Vehicle?

Drivers need to consider adjusting the safe following distance under several circumstances, such as:

  • Adverse Weather Conditions: In rain, snow, fog or icy conditions, drivers should increase the following distance. Vehicles need a longer stopping distance to avoid slamming on the brakes and losing control.
  • Speed: Higher speeds require greater following distances, as these vehicles take longer to stop.
  • Traffic Flow: In heavy traffic, there are often sudden stops and changes in speed. Drivers in this situation should focus attention to the road and leave a longer following distance.
  • Vehicle Size: Larger and heavier vehicles, like trucks, need significantly more space and time to stop. Drivers should greatly increase the distance when traveling behind them.
  • Road Conditions: Poor road conditions, such as potholes or wet surfaces, can affect a vehicle’s ability to stop, so drivers should adjust the distance accordingly.
  • Visibility: Reduced visibility from darkness, glare or obstructions necessitates a greater following distance to allow more reaction time.
  • Driver Reaction Time: Individual reaction times vary. Drivers should ensure ample space to compensate for slower reactions.

By considering these factors, drivers can better maintain a safe following distance and reduce the risk of rear-end collisions.

What Are The Dangers and Risks of Following Another Vehicle Too Closely?

Following another vehicle too closely, also known as tailgating, poses several dangers and risks:

Increased Collision Risk

Tailgating reduces the time and distance available to react to sudden stops or changes in traffic, increasing the likelihood of rear-end collisions.

Reduced Reaction Time

With less space between vehicles, drivers have less time to perceive and respond to potential hazards, making accidents more likely.

Higher Severity of Accidents

Accidents that occur due to tailgating often happen at higher speeds, which can lead to more severe injuries and greater vehicle damage.

Driver Stress and Aggression

Tailgating can cause stress and anxiety for both the tailgater and the vehicle ahead, potentially leading to aggressive driving behaviors and road rage incidents.

Legal Consequences

In many jurisdictions, including Ontario, tailgating is illegal and can result in fines, demerit points and increased insurance premiums.

Increased Stopping Distance

Tailgating fails to account for the increased stopping distance needed in adverse weather conditions, poor road conditions, or when following larger vehicles.

By maintaining a safe following distance, drivers can better mitigate these risks, ensuring a safer driving environment for everyone on the road.

What Types of Crashes May Result From Following Too Closely?

Tailgating can lead to several types of crashes, each varying in severity and potential for injury:

  • Rear-End Collisions: If a following vehicle is too close and the lead vehicle stops suddenly, the following vehicle will often not be able to stop in time to avoid a crash.
  • Chain-Reaction Accidents: Tailgating in heavy traffic can lead to chain-reaction accidents if one vehicle stops suddenly and multiple trailing vehicles are unable to stop in time.
  • Multi-Vehicle Pileups: On highways, one rear-end collision caused by following too closely can quickly involve multiple vehicles, leading to significant damage and injuries.
  • Loss of Control Crashes: Sudden braking due to one driver following too closely can cause other drivers to swerve and lose control of their vehicles.
  • Side-Impact Collisions: If a tailgating driver tries to avoid a rear-end collision by swerving, they may cause a side-impact collision with vehicles in adjacent lanes.

These crashes can result in severe injuries, extensive vehicle damage and even fatalities. Maintaining a safe following distance helps prevent these types of accidents, promoting safer driving conditions for all road users.

Could Following Too Closely Lead to an Underride Crash With a Semi-Truck?

Underride crashes involving a semi-truck are particularly dangerous and often result from tailgating. These crashes occur when a smaller vehicle collides with the rear or side of a semi-truck and slides underneath it. Here is how tailgating can lead to underride crashes and the associated risks:

Rear Underride Crashes

When a smaller vehicle follows a semi-truck too closely and the truck stops suddenly, the smaller vehicle may not have enough time to brake. This can cause the smaller vehicle to slide under the rear of the truck. The roof of the smaller vehicle can be sheared off, leading to catastrophic injuries or fatalities for the occupants.

Side Underride Crashes

In situations where a semi-truck is making a wide turn or changing lanes, a tailgating vehicle may collide with the side of the truck and slide underneath it. This type of crash is often fatal due to the severe impact and the potential for the smaller vehicle to be crushed.

Reduced Visibility

Following a semi-truck too closely reduces the driver’s visibility of the road ahead. This lack of visibility can prevent the driver from seeing and reacting to potential hazards, increasing the risk of an underride crash.

High Impact Force

The height and weight of semi-trucks mean that underride crashes involve significant impact forces. These forces can cause severe damage to the smaller vehicle and its occupants, leading to life-threatening injuries.

Inadequate Safety Features

Some semi-trucks are equipped with underride guards designed to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath. However, not all trucks have these features. Even when trucks do have them, they may not be properly maintained. This lack of protection increases the risk of serious injury in an underride crash.

How Can Drivers Avoid Being Involved in a Crash Caused By Following Too Closely?

To avoid being involved in a dangerous crash caused by following too closely, drivers should be diligent to do the following:

  • Maintain a safe following distance
  • Consider when weather, traffic, time of day and other factors mandate increasing your following distance to reduce your crash risk
  • Allow more time to get to your destination to reduce the temptation to drive too close to another vehicle
  • Always be especially alert when behind or between large vehicles like semi-trucks
  • If someone is following your vehicle too closely, take steps to move into another lane as soon as it is safe to do so.

What If I Am Injured in a Crash Caused By Following Too Closely?

At Greg Monforton and Partners, we are here to help victims injured by the negligence of other drivers. Contact our Windsor law firm as soon as possible after your crash to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable lawyer at our firm.

Concerned about costs? There are no upfront costs or fees to pay if you hire our firm. We take all personal injury cases on contingency, and we only get paid if you do.

Here to help you. (866) 320-4770