Tailgating-related crashes on the rise; Kansas man takes action

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The number of accidents because of tailgaters are increasing. After one Wichita man was rear-ended for the fifth time, he took action. 

You'll see a lot of cars driving on Kansas roads, but maybe none as unique as Simon Atanasov's Honda Civic.

"It kind of gets old repainting it black since it is going to get wrecked anyway, so I put some primer on it and called it good," Atanasov said. 

Inspired by a 2004 movie about a New York taxi driver with a need for speed and a hatred of tailgaters, a simple logo on the back of the car in the movie "Taxi," Atanasov decided that logo and a can of spray paint could solve his problem. So far, it's worked. 

"I've had some people ask me, do people actually tailgate you now...and the answer is not really. There might have been one or two times where people want to do it, but in general, not really.

Tailgating or following too closely is an increasing trend on Kansas roads. Kansas Department of Transportation data shows that over the past five years, the number of accidents where tailgating was at play has increased dramatically. 

"Its foolish," said Trooper Ben Gardner with the Kansas Highway Patrol. "Its dangerous and it happens way to often on our Kansas roadways."

Trooper Gardner says he sees drivers following other cars way too close every day.

I asked, "When people, I mean they are right up on somebodies bumper, they know what they are doing, don't they?"

Trooper Gardner said, "Yeah, they do. You see people that want to push, not physically push but with their presence, push a vehicle through the passing lane because it is not going as fast. So they will come up right on it."

Trooper Gardner says a driver needs to have at least three seconds of distance between their vehicle and the one in front of them. That's the new standard, and less than that could be considered tailgating.

In 2016, the Kansas Highway Patrol issued thousands of tickets for following too closely.

"People need to recognize that it is a dangerous thing," Trooper Gardner said. "Its not the best practice and its going to cost somebody to lose their life."

Atanasov said, "Usually four or five bucks from Walmart, get you a little spray can. It's called "John Deere Yellow."

Atanasov is happy with his bumper right now. It might not be pretty, but its keeping other drivers from hitting him. 

"I think the yellow bumper on a black car makes it stick out better...makes it easier to see, easier to notice."

The old standard was give yourself two seconds of following room. And with winter approaching and the possibilities of hazardous road conditions, it's recommended drivers start getting in the habit of giving themselves even more following distance.

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