Definition: (verb) To follow or drive hazardously close to the rear of another vehicle.
ER24 would like to put in perspective the possible repercussions of tailgating, especially behind emergency vehicles en route to emergency calls.
In Cape Town the paramedics at ER24 have noticed an increase in vehicles, especially motorbikes, tailgating behind their vehicles while en route to emergency calls. This is not only hazardous to the person tailgating but to the person driving the emergency vehicle, as they are distracted by the vehicle behind them in an attempt to ensure that they are not collided with from behind. The ambulances are big and the majority of the time the vehicles tailgating cannot see what is happening in front of the emergency vehicle and are therefore unprepared for sudden stops or other evasive maneuvers.
Some road users react very unpredictably to emergency vehicles using their warning devices (flashing lights and sirens). This results in the emergency vehicle having to react quickly and sometimes perform evasive actions. The person tailgating is caught totally off guard and the risk of a collision occurring between the two vehicles, as well as possible injuries, is a very real threat.
There are two aspects to an emergency vehicle being involved in a collision. Firstly, the emergency vehicle has to stand down on the emergency call that they are mobile to and follow the correct procedures to ensure that the accident is recorded properly by law, this results in a delay for the person needing the ambulance and receiving the necessary medical treatment. Secondly, the emergency vehicle needs to be stood down to be repaired instead of attending to people in desperate need of medical attention.
We ask all road users to be courteous to one another and please keep a safe following distance in everyday driving, but especially increase your following distance to at least twenty meters behind an emergency vehicle that is using its warning devices.