“…situations in which one vehicle is following another vehicle so closely that even if the following driver is attentive to the actions of the vehicle ahead he/she could not avoid a collision in the circumstance when the driver in front brakes suddenly.”
The FMCSA considers those CDL holders convicted of following too closely as having committed a “serious offense.”
What Is an FMCSA Serious Offense?
The DOT FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51 states:
“Major and serious offenses require driver disqualification even if the CDL holder is driving a non-CMV. Serious offenses require a minimum disqualification of 60 days for a second offense, 120 days for a third, and one year for a fourth within three years of the first.”
The FMCSA considers the following serious offenses:
- Excessive speeding (15 or more mph over or speeding in a construction zone).
- Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or permit in possession.
- Operating a CMV without an endorsement.
- Reckless driving.
- Illegal use of a cell phone.
- A violation of local traffic law or traffic control device resulting in a fatal accident.
- Following too close.
- Making an erratic or unsafe lane change.
- Unlawful procedures at a railroad crossing (immediate driver disqualification).
Although some novice drivers might think it more convenient to pay the fine (usually $237 in Yolo County), a CDL holder should always consult a traffic attorney first, as it is too easy to get a second ticket for following too close, and the first might be the easiest to contest in court.
Always Maintain a Safe Traveling Distance Between You & the Vehicle in Front
A safe traveling distance allows you enough time to take evasive action in case of the unexpected and enough braking time to avoid a rear-end collision, often resulting from following too closely.
When traveling 40 mph or less, leaving a one-second gap for every ten feet of truck length is recommended. For most tractor-trailers, that is a four-second gap. For 55 mph, you should add a second and a half.
Although it is frequently difficult to maintain that distance on the highway when a four-wheel vehicle driver cuts back in after passing your vehicle, you are the one driving the high-profile vehicle and will most often get charged with following too close, even when it is not your fault.
Widen the Gap During Adverse Weather Conditions to Avoid Following Too Close
The FMCSA advises truck and bus drivers to double the space between you and the vehicle in front during rain, sleet, or snow. This is particularly true right after it starts raining or snowing, as the road is slickest just after the change in weather.
However, it isn’t just weather conditions that can affect your following distance, as road conditions, construction, traffic, and visibility should also be a cause for concern.
Adverse weather conditions can significantly affect stopping distances; it takes nearly 200 feet to stop a tractor-trailer going 55 mph.
Despite Your Attentive Driving, You Could Still Get Ticketed for Following Too Close
You cannot control what the other driver does. Therefore, it is often necessary to hire a traffic attorney to resolve the ticket and bring the judge’s attention to the other driver’s negligent action. Always consult a traffic attorney before deciding on a course of action.
For more information, read the Bigger & Harman blog, Following Too Closely Can Be Costly.
Ask Bigger & Harman, APC, for Legal Assistance in Yolo County Traffic Court
Call Bigger & Harman, APC, at (661) 349-9300 when you need help to dispute a following too close or any traffic ticket in Woodland, CA.
Call, email us, or use our convenient online contact form for a free consultation.
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The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook Copyright 2022.
The DOT FMCSA article, CMV Driving Tips - Following Too Closely.
The DOT FMCSA Special Guidance.
The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51, Driver Disqualifications