On October 15th, 2007, as cars were slowing down to avoid construction work on the left lane in Marlborough, Connecticut, a tractor-trailer driver crashed his vehicle into the car in front of him. One 47-year-old woman was killed in the accident. Three other vehicles were also involved in the crash, leaving two of the drivers injured. The roadway was shut down for over five hours. The trucker eventually had criminal charges filed against him.
By law, everyone must maintain a proper following distance on the road. The definition of this varies from state to state. However, it generally describes a situation in which a vehicle follows another one so closely that even if the follower is attentive, the driver in the rear cannot avoid a collision if the lead vehicle brakes suddenly.
In California, the law states as follows: “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 vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.”
Following at a safe distance not only gives a driver proper stopping time, it also allows for better decisionmaking, giving drivers crucial seconds to evaluate the conditions and to take the safest course of action.
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has reported that five percent of all truck crashes occured because a commercial motor vehicle kept inadequate space between itself and the lead vehicle. For commercial drivers, the FMCSA recommends that proper distance be maintained between vehicles and that drivers double the safe following distance in adverse weather conditions.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles recommends that drivers allow extra space between them and the car in front under the following conditions:
- You are being tailgated
- When towing a trailer or carrying extra weight
- While following a motorcycle
- Following a large vehicle that blocks your view
- Driving in adverse weather conditions.
Another thing to remember about following too closely is that in a rear-end accident, the driver who crashes into the rear end of the vehicle in front is almost always presumed to be at fault. Why? Because he was following too closely!
If you or a family member has been injured in a rear-end accident, contact the Alexander Law Group, LLP at 888-777-1776. Our attorneys are experienced in lawsuits involving all kinds of motor vehicle accidents. Initial consultations are free and confidential.