Tailgating is a ticketable traffic offense in the State of Florida. Tailgating is the term used for following a vehicle too closely and is considered a moving violation. If a person follows too closely behind another vehicle, they can be stopped by law enforcement, ticketed, fined and points will be added to their license.

In order to be ticketed for tailgating, however, the following must be true: (1) there was a vehicle in the same lane as the driver’s vehicle and in front of the driver’s vehicle; and (2) the driver was following the vehicle more closely than reasonable given road conditions. There are guidelines for what qualifies as enough room between vehicles. Generally, leaving one full car length between vehicles for every 10 miles per hour is sufficient.  These distances depend on weather conditions and the road itself. Accordingly, tickets for following too closely involve a certain level of subjectivity.

A study conducted by “Vitals,” a Weekly Safety Newsletter, found that drivers do not have time to perceive a problem if they are tailgating at a speed of 65 to 70 miles per hour because they are traveling 100 or more feet per second. If the driver in front decides to suddenly apply their brakes, the tailgating driver may not know what is happening quickly enough to respond. If they cannot perceive the problem, the tailgating driver cannot hit their own brakes in response. The New York State Driver Manual states that 4 of every 10 crashes occur because someone is following too closely. As such, it is recommended that drivers create a good “space cushion” between themselves and the driver in front of them. Drivers should choose an object near or above the road ahead, such as a sign. As the vehicle ahead passes it, drivers should count slowly, “one thousand one, one thousand two.” The driver is traveling too closely if they reached the object before finishing counting. It is also important for drivers to leave space on the sides of their vehicles in the event of a quickly needed lane change or to avoid a hazard by pulling over.

If you find yourself being tailgated by another driver, respond responsibly. First, check your speed. If you are traveling too slow for the driving lane you are in, move your vehicle to the right lane or increase your speed to the legal speed limit. Next, let the vehicle who is following too closely pass you. Never confront or seek an altercation with a tailgating driver. This carries the risk that the situation could get worse. Once the tailgating driver has passed, do not tailgate them to get a closer look at the driver. Leave plenty of space between yourself and the vehicle and continue to follow the 3 second rule to maintain a safe distance.

Following too closely can result in an accident. While sometimes referred to as “low-impact,” rear-impact collisions can cause life-long injuries. One such injury is whiplash, which occurs when the head is jerked backward and forward, resulting in soft tissue damage from sudden rear impact. Moreover, when hands, wrists, legs or knees impact the dashboard or steering wheel they may also become injured. Chest injuries can also occur if a driver forcefully hits the steering wheel, resulting in rib or internal organ damage.

Wittmer & Linehan PLLC is committed to keeping Florida roadways safe. Drivers are obligated to follow the rules of the road to avoid inflicting harm or injury. Tailgating is dangerous and can cause rear-end collisions with devastating consequences, including serious injury or death. If you or a loved one are involved in a vehicle accident, contact Wittmer & Linehan at 941-263-8314 or fill out our online form to speak with our team of experienced attorneys.