TAILGATING CAN CAUSE A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT.
HOW FAR AWAY DOES THE LAW SAY YOU HAVE TO KEEP FROM THE CAR IN FRONT OF YOU?
In order to prevent a traffic accident, a driver must maintain a safe distance behind another vehicle. The New Jersey Legislature has put this duty into law. The law reads as follows:
“The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of the preceding vehicle and the traffic upon, and condition of, the highway.”
New Jersey Courts have ruled that this law merely restates the legal standard that judges applied even before the Legislature passed the law. However, by passing the law, the Legislature also authorized certain specific penalties for tailgating. For example, a tailgating conviction comes with five motor vehicle “points.” Additionally, a convicted tailgater can be fined up to $400. He or she also faces up to 15 days in prison.
If a driver violates the tailgating law and therefore causes a traffic accident, there may be further consequences. A tailgating violation is considered to be negligence. Say the tailgater injured someone else in the traffic accident, and the victim sues. The jury will be instructed by the judge that, if the party being sued violated the tailgating law, then he or she acted negligently.
Thus, because the law imposes a duty of care on a driver following behind another driver, a finding that the driver violated the duty eliminates the need for further proof of negligence.
This legal standard is also contained in the charge that the judge reads to the jury in tailgating accident cases.
Exactly How Close to Follow to Avoid a Traffic Accident.
You may ask, what does “reasonable and prudent” mean? Exactly how close to the car in front of me can I drive legally?
At least one car length (twenty feet) of distance is advisable for each ten miles an hour you are traveling. For example, if you’re traveling 50 miles an hour, stay at least 100 feet behind the vehicle ahead of you. If road conditions are not ideal, you should increase your distance substantially. You can also use the so called “three second rule.”
Stay safe out there.
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