Tailgating fault

Ok, I hate tailgaters. If someone is tailgating me, to where I can’t see their license plate, on the street or freeway, I’ll tap my brakes. (Personally, I drive using the 1 car length per 10 mph. So, there would be about 6-7 cars between me and the car in front of me on the freeway and 3-4 car lengths on the street) I might do this a few times, but if it doesn’t work, I’ll slow down 5-10 mph. Usually, this works as the tailgater realizes he or she is about to rear end me. When I gave my sister a ride last week, she noticed I did this. She said I shouldn’t do it as supposedly if the tailgater did hit me, I’d be at fault since the police and/or insurance company would want to know why I slowed or braked as I had an open road in front of me. I argued that the tailgater would be at fault for driving 6-12 feet from my bumper at 65 mph, his actions created an dangerous situation and there’s no reason for tailgating. She countered there was a friend lived in the mountains and the highway patrol provided an escort in the fog where everyone tailgated down the orad. Uhm, I think they’d be driving 10-20 mph through the fog and the carlength-mph rule would probably be applied. If someone was driving 60 mph or too close, get ready for a large insurance bill when the other 5-20 drivers sue you when you skid. Sorry, for the tangent. So, who would be responsible for the crash based on my braking habits?

As I understand it, the Last Clear Chance rule generally applies–hit someone from behind, and it’s almost always your fault because you had the last clear chance to avoid the accident.

That said, tapping your brakes is not a very good idea. Essentially, that’s challenging the roadhog to a fight. Two multi-ton vehicles moving at 70 mph engaged in open-road warfare is a recipe for disaster, especially when they’re surrounded by other multi-ton vehicles also moving at 70. Right of way isn’t one of those rights worth dying for.

If you’re in the right-hand lane, then the idjit ought to go around in the left lane. If you’re not in the right-hand lane, then congratulations–you’re the idjit. If you’re on a two-lane road, then try to find some way to let them pass. If you can’t, or if they wont, then slowing down gradually and safely until they get the message is your best option.

You might be at fault for braking suddenly for no good reason, but I can’t see how you’d be at fault for slowing down gently.

If you tap your brakes lightly enough to just flash your brake lights without actually engaging your brakes, thats fine.

But suddenly slowing without reason puts some fault onto you.

I hate tailgaters too, but tapping the brakes is not a good idea. It doesn’t matter whose fault the accident would be if it occurs – why would you want to increase the possibility of an accident happening at all?

The person hitting you from behind is always going to be found at fault. The police are not going to do a CSI style investigation to figure out what happened.

The driver behind you is responsible for maintaining a safe distance. They must leave enough room behind you to be able to stop for any reason. You are not legally responsible to tell them the reason you braked you could easily claim the 5th if it came up.

That said its still not a good idea.

I disagree. Tapping your brakes is not a “challenge”. Slamming your brakes is what causes problems. Tapping them just lights up your taillights for a second and warns the other driver. After doing so, the other driver will either wise up, or you should slowly reduce your speed. However, you should drive as steadily as possible even if you do slow down.

As my driver’s ed teacher used to say: When the smoke clears and you’re on line at the Gates, telling the angel that you had the right of way is not gonna get you a Return To Earth card.

That said, if it is daytime, you could put your lights on. Or turn them quickly on off on off on off. That will make the guy in back THINK you hit the brakes, but without actually doing so.

I understand the hatred of tailgaters, I really do, but when you’re lying in the hospital with your jaw wired shut and various key organs no longer where they’re supposed to be, you’re not going to care that the other guy was more “at fault.”

Please don’t play games at highway speeds.

slowing down by 10 mph in order to “get” someone else to do something = dangerous game

In all the rear enders I’ve been in, the car that did the rearending was 100% at fault. Sure, there may be extenuating circumstances in some cases, but it’s not wise to do any maneuver (such as slowing down) that can increase the chances of getting hit from behind even if you’re not found at fault. Besides the hassles of dealing with insurance companies, arranging repairs, dealing with possible road rage, there’s a chance for real injury in an accident. If you’re in the fast lane, move over a lane to let the car pass. If you’re in the slow lane, just hold your ground and the tailgater should pass on its own.

This. I’m tired of people whining about tailgaters when they shouldn’t have been in the fast lane to begin with. I’m not excusing tailgating . . . it’s wrong . . . but take some responsibility for your own driving.

I’m a faster-than-average driver myself, yet sometimes even I am followed by a tailgater. I will do whatever I can to get that person ahead of me, not behind. If you want to drive at an unsafe speed, please kill yourself when you’re not anywhere near me.

Everytime I’ve been tailgated, its’ been when I’ve already been in the far right lane.

As a claims guy I can tell you that it’s tough to get out of being responsible for a rear end collision when you’re the back-door man, but it’s not impossible. Brake checking someone is the best way to be identified as the efficient proximate cause of the accident. Sure, the guy was following too closely, but had YOU not willfully created a sudden emergency the accident would not have happened.

Serious as a heart attack, stop doing that or you’ll find yourself mighty embarassed some day.
Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1008(1) Following Too Closely
“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”

When the driver of a motor vehicle hits another vehicle in the rear, the law presumes, and you must find that the driver was negligent. Of note, rear-end presumption is rebuttable, some evidence of negligence by the plaintiff is sufficient to preclude directed verdict. But, just a sudden stop is insufficient, there must be evidence the stop was unwarranted. Huntoon v. TCI Cablevision of Colorado, Inc., (Colo 1998)

Colorado Jury Instruction 9:11 SUDDEN EMERGENCY:
A person who, through no fault of his or her own, is placed in a sudden emergency, is not chargeable with negligence if the person exercises that degree of care which a reasonable person would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances. (Young v. Clark Colo. 1991) Sudden Emergency Doctrine: The basis for the special rule is merely that the actor is left with no time for adequate thought, or is reasonably so disturbed or excited that the actor weigh alternative course of action, and must make a speedy decision, based very largely upon impulse or guess. We still require the actor to act reasonably under the given facts).

Amazing how a dog or a deer will suddenly cross in front of me when I’m being tailgated. You didn’t see it when I braked hard? Is that why you ran into me? What deer? The one that disappeared into the woods. He went thataway…

Perhaps you will not be punished by the law. But you will not be compensated for the time that it takes to deal with the accident. Talking with Insurance companies taking the car to the shop is not my idea of fun.

Even tapping the brakes can end badly. Maybe the person is tailgaiting because they aren’t paying close enough attention, and suddenly seeing brake lights right ahead of them causes them to slam on their brakes. The guy behind them does the same, and somewhere along the line is another person following a little too closely who smashes into the person in front.

Yeah, you might escape without anyone hitting you, but are you really going to go home feeling good about yourself?

Best thing you could do would be to change lanes (even if it means moving left temporarily) and let the guy pass you. I hate riding in the car with my dad on the highway. 70mph and he won’t ever stay more than 2, maybe 3 if we’re lucky, car lengths back. If me and my mother can’t convince him to back off, your taps aren’t gonna do it.

Haven’t you ever seen the bumper sticker, “Hit me – I need the money!”?

If people are always tailgating you, there may be a reason for that. Especially if there are often several vehicles close behind you and no one ahead.

Very good point. But I regularly drive 15 MPH over the limit (many limits are absurdly low in my town and I know where the cops hang out), so if someone comes up to me much too close, it is a reckless asshole. Hit me, please.