RESEARCH - Tailgating
This document by the Center for Automotive Safety Research in Adelaide, Australia looks at the role that tailgating plays in rear end crashes. The researchers found that short gaps between vehicles were common in daily driving with the majority of drivers leaving only 0.5 to 1.0 seconds between vehicles. These short distances themselves do not appear to be a significant factor until the time gap between vehicles exceeds the driver's reaction time. Inattention on the part of the driver is then significant.
If interest is the concept of amplification in response to a disturbance in traffic. If insufficient following distance is involved the amount of braking involved to avoid a collision is amplified until a crash occurs. Drivers have a responsibility to others to dampen this disturbance instead, and that means maintaining sufficient following distance to react properly and brake smoothly.