Safe Following Distance

Following too closely to the vehicle in front of you, also known as tailgating, can result in traffic fines and is a major cause of accidents in the U.S. 

In many states the fine can be $125 and two points on your driving record for the first offense and can result in jail time for additional offenses.  Accidents caused by drivers following too closely often occur in combination with other negligent acts such as texting while driving or other forms of distracted driving.

State Traffic Law

The traffic law prohibiting following too closely typically states:

“The driver of the motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than what is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles, and the condition of the highway.”

Safety Advice

At 55 mph it takes about 400 feet to react and bring your vehicle to a complete stop.  At 35 mph it takes about 210 feet.  Leave even more space between your vehicles when:

  • Carrying a heavy load
  • Driving on wet, icy or dirt roads
  • Weather is foggy, windy or dusty
  • A tailgater is behind you
  • Merging onto a freeway
  • Following large vehicles that block your view
  • The driver behind you wants to pass

Resource:  California Driver Handbook, State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, 2019.