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Tailgating – Too Close for Comfort (or Motorcycle Safety)

By Lependorf & Silverstein on April 29, 2018

Tailgating, or driving too close to the rear of another vehicle, is a major cause of accidents in New Jersey. Many drivers fail to understand that an insignificant fender bender between two cars can become a life-threatening event when a motorcycle is involved.

The worst part is that these motorcycle collisions could easily have been avoided. For that reason, in New Jersey, any driver who strikes the rear of another vehicle is always at fault for the damage. 

Tailgaters Now Get Tickets in New Jersey

Rear-end collisions have increased so rapidly that law enforcement has added a new tool to try to reduce the number of drivers who are tailgating. Officers are now using a laser system that measures the exact time and following distance between two vehicles. Those who are following too closely are then ticketed at least $140 and docked five points for failing to maintain a safe distance.

What Is Considered a Safe Distance?

“Assured clear distance” is the space that a driver leaves between his or her vehicle and the vehicle that he or she is following. This distance is the actual space that is required to stop the follow vehicle if the lead vehicle stops suddenly. There is no set distance because the distance varies according to the speed of the second vehicle. We all understand the basic premise of momentum and know that the faster a vehicle is traveling, the longer the distance required to stop the vehicle. That principle of physics is why a safe following distance is described in time lapsed, and not feet or an exact distance. The standard rule is that a two-second time delay is a safe distance between vehicles under good conditions.

However, if the weather is bad or the road conditions are poor, then four to five seconds is a safer bet. This time lapse number should also increase the faster both vehicles are going. Tailgating is dangerous because you do not have enough time to brake should the first car suddenly slow or stop, and if that “car” is a motorcycle, things will be much worse.

Why Do Drivers Rear-End Motorcycles?

In this day and age, distracted drivers are the most likely to cause a rear-end collision with a motorcycle. Some common contributing factors may also include:

  • Texting while driving
  • Talking on the phone while driving
  • Programming or referring to GPS navigation system while driving
  • Changing/setting the radio while driving
  • Talking to passengers while driving
  • Impaired by alcohol or drugs while driving
  • Too tired while driving

There Are No Minor Motorcycle Accidents

Unlike the occupants of a car or truck, motorcycle riders have little or no protection in a crash. Cars and trucks are designed to absorb the energy of an impact and direct it away from passengers, but motorcycles do not have those safety features. Instead, the rider is either thrown from the bike or directly hit by the other vehicle in the accident. So even a low-speed collision can cause a great deal of trauma to a rider; and a low-speed hit from behind can pin the rider to the ground beneath the motorcycle or drag the rider along the pavement if the car does not stop quickly.

Simply landing on the ground under the weight of a motorcycle can cause broken bones, soft tissue damage, and internal bleeding. If the motorcycle continues to be pushed from behind, the rider can sustain additional abrasion damage from the ground, otherwise known as road rash. Some of the more common injuries resulting from a motorcyclist being hit from behind include:

  • Avulsion – Where the skin is scrapped or peeled off the body. These often require skin grafts and are at risk for very serious infections.
  • Compression – When a limb is crushed under the weight of a vehicle. Compression often results in broken bones and severe tissue damage.
  • Whiplash – When a motorcycle is hit from behind and the rider’s head snaps back and forth. Most often, the lingering injuries are to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the neck.

If the impact is strong enough to throw the rider from the motorcycle, then more severe injuries can be expected, including spinal trauma and significant damage to the brain.

After a Rear-End Collision on a Motorcycle

The first priority after any accident is getting proper medical care for anyone who has been injured. Once all victims are in the care of medical professionals, the motorcyclist should seek legal representation.

At Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., we have been working to protect the rights of New Jersey motorcycle riders for over 25 years. We understand that most of these collisions result in very serious injuries and we want to help you get the compensation that you deserve. In the event of a rear-end collision, you probably have very little information about what happened before you were hit, but we will work on your behalf to determine the chain of events that resulted in your injuries and the damage to your motorcycle. This can involve working with law enforcement officers, witnesses, and even accident reconstructionists. We are glad to be of service and to relieve you of the burden of protecting your interests so you can focus on healing.

Call today at (609) 240-0040 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you begin the recovery process.

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Posted in: Motorcycle Accident

The firm’s principals, Gabriel R. Lependorf and David E. Silverstein, have each been representing injured victims in the State of New Jersey for over twenty years.

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