Live in Florida long enough and pretty soon, you’ll notice that car accidents during your commute are a common occurrence. Sometimes, they’re disastrous and your heart hurts for those involved. Other times, they’re relatively minor annoyances that block traffic and make you take twice as long to get home from work. But when you’re the one who’s involved in them, you view them from a different perspective.
A common phrase included in police reports involving a car accident is that one of the drivers was tailgating. What does that mean? How common are these types of accidents, and how can they affect you if you’re held liable?
What is tailgating?
Tailgating is a popular term used to describe when one car is following too closely to the car in front of them. While Florida law doesn’t use that specific term, it does establish that the driver of a motor vehicle should not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent. To determine what is reasonable and prudent, a driver has to pay attention to factors such as the traveling speed, the flow of traffic, and road conditions.
When it comes to trucks or trailers, it’s illegal for the driver to follow within 300 feet of another motor vehicle.
How common are tailgating car accidents in Florida?
In 2018 alone, over 20,000 motor vehicle accidents in Florida were due to a driver following too close to the vehicle in front of them, making tailgating one of the most common types of car accidents in the Sunshine State.
Can you get pulled over for tailgating in Florida?
Not only can tailgating significantly increase your risk of accidents, but it also exposes you to getting pulled over by law enforcement for a traffic infraction. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you get into an accident as a result of tailgating, there is a presumption that you were at fault for the accident. If you can’t show evidence that the other driver may have been at least partly at fault, you will be liable for all damages arising from the accident, including:
- Medical bills
- Damages to the vehicles
- Lost wages
- Car insurance costs
- The other party’s attorney’s fees
What if someone else tailgates you?
While you can’t control how other motorists drive, there are certain things you can do to lower the risk of an accident if you notice someone is tailgating you.
- Make sure you are driving the same speed as the rest of traffic
- If you are driving with the flow of traffic and within the posted speed limit, let them pass you
- Do not spend too much time checking your rearview mirror that you miss the traffic in front of you slowing down – doing so reduces your reaction time, and may cause an accident.
- Do not try to confront the driver by yelling or flipping them off – angering an aggressive driver rarely ends well
All things considered, sometimes accidents aren’t so clear cut. Maybe the driver who was tailgating is 100 percent responsible for the accident, while on other occasions, courts have determined that both parties are to blame and will apportion their percentage of liability accordingly.
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Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.