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Tailgating: Dangerous and Costly


California Motor Vehicle Code 21703

Tailgating is one of the most common offenses on California streets. It rounds out the top three tickets written each year along with speeding and carpool lane violations.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you feel the need to drive too closely to the car in front of you:

  1. If you are caught, the fines and court fees could cost up to $400.
  2. The driver in front of you will not appreciate having the image of your car filling up his or her entire rear view mirror. Road rage still happens, and you don’t want to be the one causing it.
  3. The person in front of you will not drive any faster just because you are tailgating. In fact, they might driver slower just to irritate you.
  4. If you are in a hurry to get in front of the car ahead of you, wait until it is safe and then go around them.
  5. Your car cannot fly. If the car in front of you brakes suddenly, you will hit them if you are driving too close.

Assured safe distance is a subjective standard. Your idea of a safe distance and your local CHP officer’s idea of a safe distance may be two different things. Usually the judge hearing your case will side with the officer. Don’t take chances.

Although the two-second rule is not a legal standard, remembering to use it will help avoid most tailgating tickets. For those of you unfamiliar with the two-second rule, here it is:

  1. Allow at least 2 seconds between your car and the one in front of you. Pick a point on the side of the road. When the car in front of you hits that point start counting. It should take at least two seconds for your car to reach the same point. If you get there in less than two seconds, you are probably following too closely. If you are on the highway, where cars are traveling faster, you may want to leave 3 seconds.
  2. Allow more time if the roads are bad. If you are driving during snow or rainstorms, leave a four second distance. This is especially true under icy conditions.
  3. Leave a larger distance at night. Many critters travel at night, and the car in front of you is more likely to stop suddenly after dark. Leave at least three seconds between vehicles after dark.

If you anticipate situations where the driver in front of you may suddenly stop, you will be a much safer driver. This rule is all about being able to stop in time in case the car in front of you brakes suddenly.

Many drivers follow too closely. If you’ve been injured in a rear-end collision where the driver was following too close, contact the lawyers at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys right away to discuss your legal options.

To find out more on this and other traffic laws, please see the complete listing of California Motor Vehicle Codes.

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