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Understanding the Tailgating Law

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CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 21703, Additional Driving Rules makes tailgating an infraction; tailgating is to “…follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent…” depending on the conditions of the road, speed, and traffic.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warns that 23% of all vehicle accidents are caused by following another car too close or tailgating. These accidents lead to 950,000 injuries and nearly 2,000 deaths annually.

An interesting tidbit in the report is that 74% of drivers say they have been tailgated during the previous six months, but only 11% say they tailgated. That would seem to indicate that many drivers do not understand the tailgating law.

How to Avoid Tailgating

Statistical data shows you need 240 feet of open space to stop from highway speed of around 60 mph. It takes your brain 60 feet to realize it needs to stop, and then another 180 feet to complete the stop. Of course, this is the average, and you might be able to stop a little quicker, but it’s probably not worth testing.

To avoid tailgating, pick a significant spot on the highway such as a mile marker or overpass, start counting one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three… until your car reaches that spot. If you reached it at the one thousand three mark, you are right where you should be, now just maintain that three-second space between you and traffic ahead.

This three-second rule will change to four, five, or six in wet, slippery conditions or when you are towing a trailer or driving a larger vehicle. Never tailgate or drive up on someone’s bumper to get them to go faster, find a way to pass.

How to Avoid Getting Tailgated

To avoid getting tailgated, don’t try to be the highway cop. In other words, don’t drive in the fast lane going the exact speed limit to keep others from exceeding the speed limit. That’s not your job; in fact, it is against the law.

CA Vehicle Code 22400, Other Speed Laws cautions “No person shall drive upon a highway at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic…” Therefore, you could be the one ticketed for obstructing traffic unless there is a logical reason such as a safety reason other than you think everyone should do the speed limit. This type of behavior often leads to road rage and other aggressive driving behaviors.

It would be best if you stayed in the slow lane whenever you cannot keep up with faster traffic, whether or not they are speeding. Do everything possible to allow faster vehicles to pass and continue on their way.

We Can Handle Your Tailgating Ticket in Kern County

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, when cited on Highway 99 or 46 in Shafter or Bakersfield. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

We handle only traffic tickets for California drivers. We believe everyone deserves expert legal representation and focusing on one area makes us better equipped to get the results you deserve.

Send us an email, attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com.

References:

The fleetanswers.com article, Why Tailgating Is a Dangerous Driving Habit

CVC 21703Additional Driving Rules & CVC 22400, Other Speed Laws