Is Tailgating Illegal in Connecticut?

Car Accidents On Sunday, January 15, 2023

Tailgating is the term used for a motor vehicle driver following too closely behind another driver. Tailgating is a dangerous maneuver that increases the risk of serious car accidents, including rear-end collisions. It is also against multiple laws in Connecticut.

What Is Tailgating?

Tailgating is the term used for following too closely in the context of road traffic. It is a dangerous driver behavior that can make it impossible for the rear driver to hit the brakes in time to prevent colliding with the front driver. In many cases, tailgating involves an impatient, frustrated, aggressive, or distracted driver.

For example, the offending driver may be running late and wish to force the driver in front of him or her to speed up or move over. It may also be a sign of road rage or aggression. If a driver isn’t paying attention to the road, such as if he or she is looking down at a cell phone, the driver may also fail to leave a proper following distance.

Is Tailgating Against the Law? 

Yes; in fact, it is against two laws in Connecticut. The first is the state’s traffic law regarding the safe following distance between motor vehicles (Connecticut General Statutes Section 14-240). This law requires vehicles to be driven a reasonable distance apart. It states that no motor vehicle may follow another more closely than is reasonable and prudent based on the conditions, such as the weather, road conditions and speed of surrounding vehicles. 

It is also against the law to drive a motor vehicle in such proximity to another vehicle as to obstruct or impede traffic. Finally, it is illegal to form a vehicle caravan that does not allow sufficient space to enable other drivers to enter safely (other than funeral processions). The second law against tailgating is C.G.S. 14-222 – Connecticut’s reckless driving law. This law prohibits operating a motor vehicle in a way that could foreseeably endanger the life of any other person. This can include extreme cases of tailgating.

Connecticut law does not list a specific distance between vehicles that is safe or reasonable; however, a general rule of thumb is to leave a distance of at least one car length between two vehicles. Determining whether a driver is guilty of tailgating, such as in a rear-end car accident claim, may require an investigation into the distance a reasonable driver would have left between the two cars in the same or similar circumstances.

What Are the Penalties for Tailgating in Connecticut?

Violating Connecticut’s traffic laws regarding safe following distance is an infraction, except if the offender was operating a commercial motor vehicle. In this case, it is a violation that can come with a fine of no less than $100 to no more than $150. If tailgating causes a motor vehicle accident, it is a violation punishable by a fine of $100 to $200. 

The penalties for tailgating are increased if a driver is found to be in violation of C.G.S. Section 14-240a: tailgating with intent to harass or intimidate. If following another vehicle too closely is done with intent to harass or intimidate the operator of the other vehicle, it is a violation that can come with a fine of no less than $100 to no more than $300, and/or imprisonment for no more than 30 days. The penalties for this infraction increase again, to up to $600 and/or one year in prison, for a second or subsequent offense.

 Violating Connecticut’s reckless driving law by tailgating, speeding, weaving between lanes of traffic or engaging in other dangerous behaviors is a violation that can come with the same potential penalties as tailgating with intent to harass or intimidate. A perpetrator could face both fines and potential jail time. If a driver causes a car accident by tailgating, he or she could also be held liable or financially responsible for a victim’s property damage and bodily injuries. 

 If you were recently involved in a car accident due to tailgating, contact a car accident attorney to discuss your legal rights. You may be eligible for financial compensation from the at-fault driver.

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