Sunday, December 3, 2023


Video: Why you should not tailgate. Oh, dear!

Have you noticed that a lot of drivers tailgate the vehicle ahead of them these days? You might wonder how they can be even remotely comfortable traveling right on the tail of the motorist ahead of them.

Well, here’s a good reminder of what can happen when you are so close to the driver ahead that if he or she suddenly stops, you’re in a heap of trouble — there is simply no time to hit your own brakes to avoid slamming into the stopped car.

This dramatic video show a self-driving Tesla on a San Francisco freeway. Suddenly, the driver reported later, his vehicle just stopped. The vehicles behind were dead ducks — no way to stop without slamming into the vehicle ahead. In the end, 7 vehicles were involved.

An expert interviewed on this news segment from KRON-TV speculated the cause was “phantom braking” of the Tesla, which he said is common with the electric cars.

The video here is a little over two-minutes long. Watch it, weep, and then make a promise to yourself that you’ll allow a lot of space ahead of you on the road so you don’t end up in a mess like this.


Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.



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Terry (@guest_220260)
10 months ago

I choose defensive driving. When cars get in front of my safe driving distance I slow until I reach it again. City driving is the worst. However, I still follow my rules in keeping safe driving distances including watching for the unexpected like what happened in this video. Going slower is better than crashing. I am a trained retired reserve deputy.

Roger Eide (@guest_220220)
10 months ago

I watched this video and really wondered how the Tesla could have done that but got me thinking that maybe being in an underpass if momentary loss of GPS (interference from the surrounding structure) could have caused something like that. Fear of being in a pile up like that is why I always try to leave plenty of room between me and the people in front. That wouldn’t help for the people behind me though.

Shane (@guest_220211)
10 months ago

The Tesla did not cause this pileup. Tailgating! Tailgating and possibly distracted driving by handling a phone and texting also likely was involved with at least a few of these drivers.

Dennis G. (@guest_220184)
10 months ago

Know this area well on the SF Bay bridge, just after the Treasure Island exit. The Tesla’s on board system misinterpreted something. Have driven a 2020 Volvo CX90, that slammed on the brakes, and pretensioned the seat belt, as I exited I-280 at Lawrence Expwy. There was nothing, to hit, but the Volvo had other ideas. Scared me!

Jeff (@guest_220127)
10 months ago

In October of 2022 I started driving non medical transport van. I have driven in Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh, Wausau, and down to Madison. In the fall when road conditions are good I will drive 5 mph over the speed limit. People pass me by like I am standing still. This week we had two days of snowfalls. I was driving 55 to 60 mph and when the roads were not good I slowed down some more. I still had people passing me like I was standing still. I think people forget it’s winter time here in Wisconsin and the people forget to slow down.

captain gort (@guest_220126)
10 months ago

Sue Elon Musk for creating this asinine machine. He is clearly liable! And how about the State for even ALLOWING it. Call Saul!!!

Shane (@guest_220214)
10 months ago
Reply to  captain gort

You’re not serious?

Had me for a moment. ‘-)

Jim Johnson (@guest_220109)
10 months ago

Our current tow vehicle has adaptive cruise control (with braking if necessary). I have become a huge fan. Following someone whose speed is variable can be fatiguing. Not that I allow myself to become non-attentive, but my vehicle will maintain a minimum distance set by me, from a vehicle in front of me. Frankly the system reacts much faster and smoother than I can to minor speed variations.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_220092)
10 months ago

It’s as simple as this – self driving cars cannot safely mix with human driven cars!

Shane (@guest_220217)
10 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

The Tesla merely slowed down. Inattentive and tailgating was the sole cause.

Mike (@guest_220085)
10 months ago

Did not see much tailgaiting in this video. This may be a whole other article. I tend to drive around 60-62 mph in the motorhome and also my other vehicles, but I will stay in the driving lane to keep out of others way. It never fails to have that semi on top of me to the point that I can only see their headlights in my rear view mirror. If I would have to brake, it would be a disaster. Please pass me. This is not a Nascar race. Don’t threaten my life!

Spike (@guest_220082)
10 months ago

Yesterday’s poll was on “self” driving and I commented on the phantom braking issue, which is the most frequent complaint I hear from motorhome owners with just the “accident mitigation” systems installed. Sensors misinterpret something and slam on the brakes.

NHTSA is “studying” the situation…well just how long will it take and why are these hazardous vehicles allowed to stay on the road in the meantime? If they want Tesla to fix it, disallow sales until a valid functional fix is in place. Bet it would happen a lot sooner with the right motivation.

Peter (@guest_220078)
10 months ago

It is hard to understand how the other cars started slamming into each other. It appears that they were not paying attention to what was going on ahead of them. You should be looking several cars ahead at all times. Isn’t that what we were taught in driver’s Ed? Some of these cars hardly slowed down before plowing into the car in front of them.

Donald N Wright (@guest_220032)
10 months ago

Another problem is folks are texting, so they follow someone else, getting closer and closer. I often pull over so tailgaters have to pass. It’s not that they cannot, it’s that they want you to “drive” for them.

Jewel (@guest_220022)
10 months ago

I don’t see much actual tailgating in this video, at least from the angles shown. The first car was in the left lane, where the Tesla changed lanes in front of it. The white truck swerved out of the lane as cars slowed. The last few it’s harder to tell but as a rule, the 3-second rule is hard to follow with cars zipping in wherever there is a space.

Towing an RV is even more hair raising in traffic and not for the weak, particularly in traffic.

Self driving is not something I would be comfortable doing – I don’t use cruise control in traffic, so why would I trust a computer to slow or brake at the right time? crazy!

Cancelproof (@guest_219874)
10 months ago

Pretty much says it all. Thanks for including that link. I had not seen it but I will be sure that others do.

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