Being tailgated can be annoying, especially in bad weather. You may worry that the rear driver will hit you, or you might be irritated that they seem to want you to go faster. So what harm could it cause if you tap your brakes and force them to slow down and back off a little?

This behavior is called brake checking, and it’s both highly dangerous and illegal in Florida. Read on to learn more about brake checking and the car accidents this behavior can cause.

What Is Brake Checking?

Brake checking is an aggressive driving practice used to control how close other drivers follow behind you. When an aggressive driver thinks someone is getting too close, they may suddenly hit their brakes. This forces the other driver to also stop, or “check their brakes.”

As you might imagine, brake checking can cause a lot of accidents, especially in bad weather. When it’s raining or icy, the following car may not have time to get stopped if the vehicle in front stops all of the sudden. 

As a general rule, using your driving to control the behavior of others around you is dangerous.

Why Do People Brake Check?

Of course, the main reason people brake check is to get other drivers back off. 

Getting tailgated can be frustrating, and aggressive drivers often view brake checking as a deserved bit of retribution. Even if the other driver doesn’t back off, the brake checker hopes they’ll be irritated, which makes the aggressive driver feel better.

But you might be surprised to learn that some people brake check as a form of fraud. As we’ll discuss more later, almost all rear-end collisions are considered the rear driver’s fault. Some brake checkers try to cause crashes on purpose in order to collect liability payments.

Types of Collisions Brake Checking Causes

It will come as no surprise that the most common type of collision brake checking causes is rear-end collisions

When a leading driver stops too suddenly, the following driver can’t get stopped in time. They run into the back of the leading vehicle, possibly setting off their airbags and causing injuries on both sides.

In some cases, brake-checking can indirectly cause other types of collisions. For instance, if a rear driver swerves to avoid the brake checker, they may get into a head-on collision with a driver coming the opposite direction on the road. The rear driver may even swerve off the road and hit a pedestrian or a fixed object, such as a tree.

Common Brake Checking Accident Injuries

Several common injuries can happen in brake-checking accidents. 

Whiplash and concussions tend to be very common in rear-end accidents. Your head whips forward, and even if your airbags do go off, your brain may still collide with the inside of your skull due to the sudden stop.

Brake-checking accident victims may suffer broken bones, especially broken ribs and noses. If the crash is severe enough, they could suffer internal bleeding or spinal cord injury. A victim may also experience soft tissue injuries such as ligament tears or strained tendons.

Is Brake Checking Illegal?

Brake checking is illegal in many states, including Florida. In fact, depending on the severity of the accident a brake checker causes, they can even spend time in jail. If someone dies as a result of brake checking, the driver who caused the crash could face serious criminal charges.

It is also important to note that following too closely is illegal in Florida. 

So what do you do if a rear driver is following too closely and a front driver brake checks them and causes a crash? Fault is decided on a case-by-case basis, but often, a judge may rule that the rear driver is at fault since malicious intent on the part of the front driver is harder to prove.

Whose Fault Is the Crash?

In almost all rear-end collisions, the crash is considered the rear driver’s fault. It’s their responsibility to stay far enough back to avoid a crash if the front driver does have to stop suddenly. Even in bad weather conditions, a rear driver is required to stay further back to account for lower traction.

But brake checking cases work a little differently since the front driver intentionally caused the crash. 

If the rear driver can prove the front driver brake checked them, the accident will be ruled the front driver’s fault. The trouble is that it can be very difficult to prove that a front driver stopped intentionally, rather than in response to something in the road.

What to Do After a Brake Check Accident

If you’re injured in a brake check accident, the first thing you need to do is get any medical attention you need. Not only is this important for your health, but you may also need those medical records later. Go to the hospital if needed, or at least see your doctor within a couple of days after the accident.

If you aren’t hurt or can delay going to the hospital a little bit, take pictures at the scene of the accident. 

You’ll want to document 

  • Any damage to your car
  • Whether the airbags went off
  • The road surrounding you
  • Any obstacles in the road (or lack thereof)
  • Your injuries
  • The other car, including its positioning

As soon as possible after the accident, sit down and record everything you can remember about the crash. You may even want to make sketches of the scene while it’s still fresh in your memory.

And as soon as you can after the crash, you’ll need to call a personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie to represent you.

Get the Representation You Need

Brake checking is illegal and dangerous, and it causes dozens of crashes a year in Florida. These crashes can lead to whiplash, concussions, and other serious injuries or even death. Proving that the front driver was at fault can be difficult, but if you can do it, they may be held liable for the accident.

If you’ve been injured in a brake checking accident, you need to talk to a personal injury lawyer. We can help you gather evidence and protect you from dangerous claims that the accident was your fault. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with us today to discuss the details of your case.

Contact the Car Accident Law Firm of Kibbey Wagner, PLLC in South Florida For Help Today

For more information, please contact the Stuart, Port St. Lucie, or Palm Beach Gardens car accident law firm of Kibbey Wagner, PLLC, at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We proudly serve Martin County, St. Lucie County, Palm Beach County, and its surrounding areas:

Kibbey Wagner, PLLC – Stuart
73 SW Flagler Ave
Stuart, FL 34994
(772) 444-7000

Kibbey Wagner, PLLC – Port St. Lucie
1100 SW St. Lucie West Blvd. Ste 202
Port St Lucie, FL 34986
(772) 247-3374

Kibbey Wagner, PLLC – Palm Beach Gardens
300 Avenue of the Champions Ste 220
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
(561) 944-4000