Thou Shall Not Commit Tailgating

Tailgating and traffic

It's one of the deadliest sins out there on the road.

Most drivers are irritated by someone driving closely behind them. If the tailgater is pulling a fully loaded 18-wheeler, it not only causes anger, but also can be downright terrifying. Many motorists who have been tailgated by a truck driver spend the next several days cursing the whole industry to anyone that will listen.


As professionals of the trucking industry, Great West Casualty Company wants you to keep in mind that tailgating is not just a public relations issue, it is also very dangerous and costly. 


Some truck drivers believe they can "stop on a dime" since they have air brakes. However, they cannot. Some think that since they have 18 wheels, they have 18 sets of brakes. But they do not. The fact is that it takes longer to stop a tractor-trailer than a car, air brakes or no air brakes. Plenty of time is needed to perceive the problem, react, and then stop.

When a driver is getting his or her CDL, her or she should have been taught that it takes over 300 feet to stop an 18-wheeler going 55 mph on dry asphalt. If the speed is 65 mph, a driver needs to add another 95 feet to the stopping distance.

Add in factors such as wet weather, fog, ABS braking systems, downhill grade, or poorly adjusted brakes, and a driver may need a couple of football fields to stop, not just one.


Drivers should give themselves a proper margin of safety by mastering the six-second rule. They should pick a fixed point, and count "one-thousand-and-one, one-thousand-and-two..." until they have counted to at least six. If a driver reaches the fixed point before he or she finishes counting, then her or she is too close.

It is not always easy to maintain the proper following distance, but if a driver travels slightly slower than the flow of traffic, the proper following distance should be attainable.

Speed makes a difference, too. Excess speed and tailgating go hand in hand. If drivers find themselves slipping into a pattern of speeding and tailgating, they should slow down.

We don't want tailgating to play any part in your travels. Don't gamble with your safety and the safety of others. 

The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent.

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© Great West Casualty Company 2018. The material in this publication is the property of Great West Casualty Company unless otherwise noted and may not be reproduced without its written consent by any person other than a current insured of Great West Casualty Company for business purposes. Insured should attribute use as follows: “© Great West Casualty Company 2018. Used with permission by Great West Casualty Company.”

This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.