Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering


Dr. John R. Wagner

Committee Member

Dr. Kim Alexander

Committee Member

Dr. Mohammed Daqaq


Improving the safety of North American roadways is a top priority for government agencies and transportation organizations alike. Regulations on appropriate driving behavior have been developed to minimize the likelihood of crashes occurring, but law enforcement tools remain to be fully developed and applied in the field. One prominent example of this is tailgating – the dangerous act of one ground vehicle following another too closely. This activity is responsible for thousands of crashes every year, but police officers currently have few tools to accurately detect and document tailgating events. Though tailgating often occurs in a wide variety of vehicle scenarios, the most hazardous class of tailgating is that which occurs when a semitrailer, more commonly called an 18-wheeler, follows a passenger vehicle too closely. The difference in mass between a semitrailer and a passenger vehicle results in a stopping distance nearly twice as long for the former. In addition, truck drivers may be fatigued and unable to react as quickly to emergency situations, further increasing the risk of a deadly crash. Therefore, a tool is necessary that enables officers to determine when tailgating occurs, and allows them to document the event for use by prosecutors in a court of law.