Following Distance for Fleets

After this training program, participants will understand:

  • What tailgating is
  • How to determine the proper following distance
  • Best practices for maintaining an adequate following distance

What Is Tailgating?

  • Tailgating is a reckless practice in which a driver follows other vehicles too closely.
  • It can result in serious accidents, since those who are tailgating are more likely to crash into the vehicle in front of them if it brakes suddenly.
  • Every state has made tailgating a traffic violation.


  • Rear-end collisions account for approximately 23% of all motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Every year, there are 2,000 deaths and 950,000 injuries as the result of rear-end collisions.

Four Types of Tailgating

  • Aggressive Tailgating – This type of tailgating intimidates other drivers, forcing them to either speed up or move out of the lane.
  • Distracted Tailgating – This type of tailgating occurs when the driver too distracted to care about the dangers of tailgating and may not think about the risks.
  • Ignorant Tailgating – This type of tailgating involves a driver who isn’t aware of the reasons why tailgating is risky and dangerous.
  • Complacent Tailgating – This type of tailgating can occur when a driver has never been involved in an accident; therefore, they are too confident and assume they will never cause a collision.

The Consequences of Tailgating

Tailgating is not only intimidating and irritating to other drivers, but it can also be deadly.

Other consequences can include:

  • Tickets from police
  • Accidents and rear-end collisions
  • Road rage incidents

What Is the Proper Following Distance?

The odds of getting into an accident are increased when you’re following too close to other vehicles. It’s important to maintain a safe following distance so there’s time to stop safely if the vehicle in front of you brakes abruptly. Increasing the space between yourself and other vehicles can give you time to recognize a hazard and respond safely. In order to avoid collisions, keep a safe following distance by using the three-second rule.

When following a vehicle, pick an overhead road sign, a tree or other roadside marker. Once the vehicle ahead passes that marker, see how many seconds it takes for you to pass the same spot. If the time is not at least three seconds long, leave more space and increase your following distance.

Note that the three-second rule does not take a vehicle’s speed, length and weight, road conditions or inclement weather into account. It may be necessary to increase following distance based on these factors.

Best Practices for Maintaining Following Distance

  • Maintain a safe following distance using the three-second rule.
  • Double your following distance in adverse conditions, including bad weather and less-than-optimal road conditions, visibility and traffic.
  • Use caution when approaching traffic signals, intersections or changing lanes.
  • Drive defensively and anticipate hazardous situations that could cause the driver in front of you to stop suddenly.
  • Manage aggression and don’t retaliate against drivers who tailgate.


Not only is tailgating illegal, but it can also lead to health and safety issues for everyone on the road. To remain safe behind the wheel, keep in mind the responsible driving tips outlined in this presentation and follow all policies regarding the use of company vehicles.