You know the drill: You are driving down the road, and suddenly someone drives up behind you and starts hugging your bumper. For the uninitiated, this infuriating practice is commonly known as tailgating, and those who do it are called tailgaters. Motor vehicle accidents can happen for several reasons, but tailgating is one of the leading causes. Read on to learn all about this dangerous practice, including how to handle tailgaters from a legal perspective.
Tailgating and the Law
What is Tailgating?
Tailgating, also known as following too closely, is when someone driving on the road remains too close to the back of the vehicle in front of them. Additionally, tailgating is a form of aggressive driving, which can include other dangerous behaviors such as weaving in and out of traffic or driving too fast for road conditions.
Is tailgating Illegal?
Tailgating happens so frequently that you might think it is loosely defined or unenforceable. However, the opposite is true, and the requirements for maintaining a safe distance to avoid tailgating accidents are clearly defined by Connecticut law under statute C. G. S. 14-240.
The statute states that “vehicles [are] to be driven [a] reasonable distance apart,” and that “no driver of a motor vehicle shall follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having regard for the speed of such vehicles, the traffic upon and the condition of the highway and weather conditions.”
That paragraph is pretty clear, right? On the other hand, some argue that the law seems a little vague when it comes to the specific distance drivers need to maintain away from the back of another vehicle to avoid tailgating accidents. The argument that it’s vague really holds no water anywhere, though, since you learn the criteria and tips for how closely you are allowed to follow another car in the instructions that make up a large part of obtaining your driver’s license.
Tailgating Accident Statistics
About one third of rear-end collisions are caused by tailgating. Additionally, following too closely causes over 30 percent of auto accidents across the state. Tailgating accidents are often devastating, and they are some of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents that involve multiple vehicles.
Why Motorists Tailgate
The fast-paced environment and crowded roadways of modern times are often conducive to motorists wanting to get somewhere ahead of someone else by breaking traffic laws. The reasons that people give for tailgating can vary greatly, from being late for work, to not managing their time correctly, to simply just wanting to drive that way.
Often, road rage is a factor. Tailgaters claim they feel provoked in one way or another, and the provocation, real or imagined, leads to aggressive driving. Aggressive drivers who follow too closely behind your vehicle are a hazard to you, themselves and other motorists on the road.
A Dangerous Cause & Effect
Many times, aggressive tailgaters lay on the horn or flash their headlights to signal the driver ahead of them to move out of the way. The driver in front might not comply, especially if they have to break the law to appease the tailgater.
The lead driver also might not know how to handle a tailgater correctly. In that case, they’ll often increase their speed, or do the opposite by tapping or slamming on their brakes to give the offending tailgater a signal of their own. In the latter scenario, the decelerating vehicle in front mightily raises the risk of a tailgating accident.
What to Do After a Tailgating Accident
While a tailgating accident is a rare occurrence, some of us will find ourselves in the midst of one. In case it happens to you, here is what you should do:
- Call 911
- Stay as calm as you can
- Check for injuries of all affected
Tailgating Accident Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations to file a tailgating accident claim in Connecticut is two years from the date of your injury, the same as with a general personal injury. If you don’t file a claim after that time period passes, the law states that you will lose your right to compensation.
How to Handle Tailgaters
Bogus excuses are something we see frequently from at-fault drivers who are cited for following too closely. Those receiving citations for tailgating will often claim the person ahead of them was “driving too slowly” or that “they wouldn’t get out of their way.” However, the person following too closely is responsible—always. If you encounter this type of commentary after an aggressive driver has rear-ended you, be aware that such claims are not valid defenses in court.
If you have questions or need help after sustaining injuries, loss or damages due to a tailgating accident, you can contact Waterbury attorney Tim Moynahan and the Moynahan Law Firm. Reach out today for a FREE case evaluation and to speak with one of Connecticut’s most respected personal injury lawyers. The Moynahan Law Firm knows how to handle tailgaters, and we greatly enjoy helping those victimized by their dangerous practices.