Following too closely behind a vehicle, which is known as tailgating, is a dangerous practice that can result in an automobile collision, perhaps even a bad one. If you are driving and are struck by another driver who was following too closely to your car, not only is the other driver liable for your damages, but the other driver could also be charged with violating Minnesota traffic law.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation describes a number of laws that a tailgating motorist could be charged with. One law in particular deals with tailgating specifically. According to Minnesota statute 169.18, Subdivision 8, a driver is prohibited from following a vehicle more than is “reasonable and prudent.” The motorist must also have proper regard for the speed of surrounding vehicles and the current conditions of the road.
There are also other laws that could be used to prosecute a tailgating driver who causes an accident. Minnesota statute 169.13 specifically addresses reckless driving. According to Subdivision 1, a person is driving in a way that deliberately disregards the safety of people or property, the person is considered guilty of a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving. Subdivision 2 also defines careless driving, which is to drive heedlessly without consideration of the safety of others, as another misdemeanor.
While Minnesota law does not specifically define how far back a driver should be from another vehicle, the Minnesota Department of Transportation website describes the three-second following distance as a proper standard. Ideally, you should be as far behind as a three-second count of the time it takes for a vehicle to pass by a standing object. It is also important to pay attention to traffic, as it is possible to tailgate if you do not remain alert.
This article is written to inform readers about Minnesota traffic laws as they pertain to tailgating and does not convey legal advice.