Brake checking is commonplace in California. All too often, a motorist will tap or even slam on their brakes to express frustration at being followed closely by another driver. This can result in dangerous motor vehicle collisions.
Brake checking might be common, but it is also generally illegal under state law. This practice is likely to cause an accident and could fall under the prohibition of driving at a slow speed under unsafe conditions. Brake checking can also lead to a personal injury lawsuit if the accident causes serious injuries.
Is it Illegal To Brake Test Someone?
According to California law, brake testing — or brake checking, as it is more commonly known — could be illegal. According to California Vehicle Code 22400(a), it is unlawful to drive on a highway at a slow speed in a way that blocks or impedes the reasonable movement of traffic. It is possible that brake checking could result in a ticket for this offense, especially if an accident occurs because of it.
Is Tailgating Illegal in California?
Tailgating is also illegal under the laws of California. According to Vehicle Code § 21703 VC, it is a moving violation to follow another driver at a distance that is unreasonable and prudent. This standard might seem subjective, and there is not a set amount of space the law requires you to keep from another car. The question is whether a tailgating driver keeps enough space that an accident becomes likely. This determination must consider the speed the vehicles are traveling and the current weather conditions.
What Happens If You Hit Someone Who Brake Checks You?
Brake checking not only has criminal consequences, but there could also be civil consequences when brake checking results in a vehicle collision. However, the circumstances will determine which party faces potential liability under this situation. The party found to be negligent could be liable for any damage they caused to the other party or their vehicle.
Often, drivers are liable when they rear-end another motorist. This is because drivers have a duty to maintain a safe distance when following other motorists. When a driver follows someone too closely, they might not have time to safely come to a stop if road conditions change or if the motorist in front of them suddenly slows down. A driver who causes an accident because they were following another driver closely could be found negligent in a personal injury case.
There are also situations where the lead driver could be at fault. It is dangerous to suddenly slow down or come to a complete stop while driving — especially when traveling at high speeds. A driver who brake checks might make it impossible for the other driver to avoid a collision, even in cases where that driver was following at a safe speed. Ultimately, it is a question that a judge or jury must answer.
Should You Brake Check a Tailgater?
No matter how frustrating the actions of another driver might be, it is never a good idea to brake check them. Brake checking might send the message you want, but it could also result in a vehicle collision. When accidents happen, the consequences are far more severe than simply being irritated with another driver.
Brake checking could result in a collision that causes your injury. That accident could also lead to criminal charges or a personal injury lawsuit from the other party involved. Given the risks, it is never a good idea to brake check another driver — even when they are tailgating you.
Talk to an Attorney About Your Brake Check Accident
Brake checking is a dangerous practice that greatly increases the chances of a collision. If you were involved in an accident due to brake checking, you might be entitled to financial compensation.
The team at Gomez Trial Attorneys understands what goes into a successful personal injury case. Our attorneys have a track record of success with holding negligent drivers accountable. If you are ready to learn more about your options following a collision, contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation.
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.