There are two types of tailgating in California.
The fun kind involves loading up your pickup, gathering a bunch of friends, and feasting in the parking lot while you prepare for a big football game. That kind of tailgating is fun and legal. It’s also not the type of tailgating this article explores.
The type of tailgating this article is about is the kind that actually refers to you getting the front bumper of your car as close to the car in front of you as you can and continuing to drive that way. Not only is this type of tailgating against the law, but it’s also extremely dangerous.
In most cases, tailgating is done because the driver doing the tailgating is frustrated with the car in front of them. Maybe they’re driving too slow. Maybe the driver of that car pulled out in front of the tailgater. Or maybe the tailgater is just having a really bad day.
By tailgating, the driver of the second car has made a conscious effort to intimidate the lead car. In some cases, they hope to bully the lead driver into pulling over to the shoulder so the second car can pass, or that they will speed up until they reach the speed the rear driver likes. In other cases, the driver of the second car simply enjoys knowing that they are making the lead driver uncomfortable.
The problem is that if something happens and the driver of the lead car has to stop suddenly, the second driver who is guilty of tailgating won’t have time to stop before colliding with the car they were tailgating. The other issue is that it’s highly likely that the lead driver will be so nervous about being tailgated, that they won’t pay attention to the road and get into an accident.
The issue of tailgating is addressed in California Vehicle Code § 21703. If you are caught tailgating, you will be issued a ticket. The ticket will be a massive hit on your budget. The current fine connected to following to close to another vehicle in California is $237. It isn’t unusual for the ticketing officer to find additional offenses that can drive up the number of fees connected to that single incident. It’s also likely that your insurance company will decide that this act of aggressive driving is just the excuse they need to raise your insurance premiums.