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What should you do if you are being tailgated?

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Tailgating means following too closely. 

Heavy commercial vehicles can often find themselves tailgated if they can’t keep up with the speed of traffic. This can happen:

  • When driving uphill.
  • Carrying a heavy load. 

If you are being tailgated:

  • Avoid making any quick movements.
  • Slow down gradually. 
  • If you are turning, be sure to signal early. 
  • Increase your following distance between the vehicle in front of you. 
  • Keep a safe speed and don’t speed up. 
  • Avoid flashing your tail lights or brake lights to try to communicate with the tailgater. 

There are some things you can do help prevent from being tailgated, including:

  • Staying to the right and allowing vehicles to safely pass.
  • Avoid passing other slow vehicles when you are going uphill. 
  • Traveling to the right when you are driving slower than other traffic. 

What is the extra space in front of a large truck needed for?

Keeping a safe space cushion around your commercial vehicle is extremely important. 

The most important area of space to keep is the area you’re driving into – the area in front of your truck. 

Space ahead is important in case you suddenly need to stop. If you don’t have enough space or are following too closely, you crash into the vehicle in front of you if they come to a sudden stop. 

A good rule of thumb for extra space to keep in front of your vehicle is 1 second of following distance for every 10 feet of vehicle length at speeds under 40 mph. At higher speeds, you should add at least 1 second. 

For example, a 40 foot vehicle should have at least 4 seconds of following distance at speed under 40 mph. Over 40 mph, you should increase to 5 seconds of following distance. 

You can find more information about this topic in the Driving Safely (2) section of your official driver’s handbook. 

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