Is It Illegal to Tailgate in NSW?

two cars tailgate

Yes, it is illegal to tailgate in New South Wales. Tailgating is considered a form of aggressive driving, which is a serious traffic offence and can result in fines, demerit points, and even licence suspension.


In NSW, drivers are required to keep a safe following distance from the car in front of them. This sufficient distance is determined by the speed of the vehicles and the road conditions. The NSW Road Rules specify that drivers must maintain a following distance of at least:


  • 2 seconds in good conditions
  • 3 seconds in adverse conditions, such as rain or fog
  • 4 seconds when following a heavy vehicle, such as a truck or bus.

Meaning of Tailgating

Tailgating is a traffic offence that occurs when a driver follows another vehicle too closely, without leaving enough space to stop safely if the vehicle in front suddenly brakes or stops. Tailgating is dangerous because it increases the risk of a rear-end collision, which can result in serious injuries or even fatalities.


In NSW (New South Wales), tailgating is considered a form of aggressive driving and is illegal. Drivers are required to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them, which is determined by the speed of the vehicles and the road conditions. The minimum safe following distances are specified in the NSW Road Rules 2013 NSW, and are intended to provide enough time and distance for a driver to react and stop safely in case of an emergency.

What are Tailgaters?

Tailgaters are drivers who follow other vehicles too closely, without leaving a safe following distance. Tailgating is a dangerous driving behaviour that can increase the risk of accidents, particularly rear-end collisions. Tailgaters are typically impatient or aggressive drivers who may be in a hurry or trying to intimidate the driver in front of them to move out of their way. If you are being tailgated, you can report the driver to the NSW Police.

What are the Effects of Tailgating?

Tailgating can have several negative effects on drivers and other road users, including:


Increased Risk Of Accidents


When a driver follows too closely behind another vehicle, they have less time and space to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions, such as sudden braking or swerving. This can lead to rear end crashes, which can cause serious injuries or even fatalities.


Increased Stress and Anxiety


Being tailgated by another driver can be a stressful and anxiety-provoking experience for many people, especially if they feel like they are being aggressively pursued. This can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety while driving, which can impair driving performance and increase the risk of accidents. Tailing gating can result in road rage incidents.


Reduced Visibility


Tailgating can also reduce visibility for the driver behind, particularly in poor weather conditions such as rain or fog. This can make it more difficult to see hazards on the road and increase the risk of accidents.


Increased Fuel Consumption


When a driver tailgates, they tend to brake and accelerate more frequently, which can increase fuel consumption and emissions. This is because they are not maintaining a steady speed, which is more fuel-efficient.


Legal Consequences


Tailgating is illegal in NSW and can result in fines, demerit points and even licence suspension. It can also lead to criminal charges if the tailgating behaviour is particularly reckless or aggressive, such as tailgating an emergency vehicle or a pedestrian.


Penalty For Tailgating


If a driver is caught tailgating in NSW, they may face a fine of several hundred dollars and the loss of demerit points. The severity of the penalty depends on the degree of the offence and the driver’s previous traffic record.

What to Do If You Are Being Tailgated?

If you are being tailgated while driving, there are a few things you can do to ensure your safety:


Remain calm: Do not let the tailgater intimidate you or make you feel rushed. Keep your cool and continue to drive safely and defensively.


Increase your following distance: Try to increase the distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This will give you more space to manoeuvre if you need to brake suddenly.


Avoid sudden braking: Try to avoid braking suddenly, as this can cause the tailgater to collide with your vehicle. Instead, slow down gradually by taking your foot off the accelerator.


Move to another lane: If possible, move to another lane to let the tailgater pass. However, make sure it is safe to change lanes before doing so.


Use your signals: If you need to slow down or change lanes, use your signals to alert the tailgater of your intentions.


If necessary, pull over: If the tailgater continues to drive aggressively or dangerously, pull over to a safe location and allow them to pass. Do not engage with them or retaliate, as this can escalate the situation and put you in danger.


Remember, your safety should always come first when driving. If you feel threatened or unsafe, call the police or drive to the nearest police station.


Getting guidance from an experienced criminal defence lawyer is crucial if you face a traffic charge. Our team of Traffic Lawyers in Sydney, are available to provide expert advice on the most effective approach to retaining your driver’s licence.

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