Being tailgated (followed closely by a vehicle behind you) can be a nerve-wracking and dangerous experience for drivers. Some people choose to respond to tailgaters with a practice known as “brake checking.”
Brake checking is the act of tapping on your brakes in order to make your brake lights flash as a signal to a tailgater which asks them to slow down and stop following you so closely.
The act of brake checking, while intended to get someone to stop a dangerous behavior, can be a dangerous behavior itself. It can lead to rear-end accidents and it can also lead to road rage.
In addition, depending upon how the California Vehicle Code is interpreted, the act of brake checking may also be deemed illegal in California by the CHP or police.
California Vehicle Code § 22109
California Vehicle Code § 22109 states that drivers should not suddenly decrease the speed of their vehicle without first giving the appropriate signal to any driver behind them when the opportunity to provide this signal exists.
The act of brake checking can technically be considered suddenly decreasing the speed of your vehicle without first giving the appropriate signal to the driver behind you when the opportunity to provide the signal exists. Thus, the act of brake checking can technically be considered a violation of California Vehicle Code § 22109.
California Vehicle Code § 22400(a)
California Vehicle Code § 22400(a) states that drivers should not drive so slowly that they block or impede the reasonable, normal flow of traffic unless it is necessary to reduce speed in order to operate their vehicle safely, to comply with the law, or due to a grade.
Brake checking can be considered a violation of California Vehicle Code § 22400(a).
When An Aggressive Driver Is Tailgating Your Vehicle, What Do You Do?
There are safer ways than brake checking to deal with drivers who are tailgating you:
- Stay calm: It is vitally important to avoid an escalation of the situation, as many serious accidents are caused by aggressive driving. Don’t do anything that could upset the tailgater, such as gesturing in their direction or yelling at them.
- Let them pass: Move to the next lane over to your right once it’s safe if you’re on a road with multiple lanes. This will give the tailgater an opportunity to pass you on your left. Consider pulling over where it is safe to do so, such as at a gas station or parking lot, if you’re traveling on a road with one lane.
- Keep your speed steady: Your chances of getting hit increase if your speed is unsteady. Maintain a consistent speed so the tailgater behind you isn’t surprised by sudden speed changes. This will allow the tailgater to pass you more easily once the opportunity arises.
- Don’t slam on the brakes: As discussed above, this method of letting the tailgater know about your dissatisfaction with them is dangerous and could be interpreted as breaking the law in California. If it is necessary for you to use your brakes, use them steadily and slowly so the tailgater behind you has enough time to react and reduce their speed to avoid an accident.
- Be careful: It can be tough to predict what a tailgater will do next. Move cautiously and pay close attention to your complete surroundings, not just the tailgater.
What To Do When You Get Rear-Ended And Injured
If you have been rear-ended by a tailgater and injured in California, the accident will usually be considered the result of the tailgater’s negligence. Negligent tailgaters are liable for any damages you suffer under California law.
This generally means that the tailgater’s insurance company is legally obligated to pay you for any damages you suffer due to the accident. However, insurance companies won’t pay you what you deserve for your injuries unless you have a lawyer, as they know your only option when they offer you a lowball offer is to sue them over it.
Nadrich & Cohen have been representing rear-end victims and other auto accident victims since 1990, having recovered over $350,000,000 in that time for our clients. We force insurance companies to pay our clients what they’re entitled to under California law, and we don’t charge a fee to our clients unless and until we obtain compensation for them.
Call us today for a free consultation or text us from this page if you’ve been rear-ended by a tailgater. You may qualify for financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.