If you’ve received a traffic ticket for ‘following too closely’ (often called tailgating), you might be a little confused — especially if you don’t think you are guilty of the offence.
Then, even if you try to educate yourself and check the law that defines what is following a vehicle too closely, you might still be confused. In the simplest of terms, the law does not outline a strict guideline for what is considered to be following the vehicle in front of you too closely.
The Following Too Closely Law
In its definition of “following too closely”, Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act – Section 158 states:
“The driver of a motor vehicle or street car shall not follow another vehicle or street car more closely than is reasonable and prudent having due regard for the speed of the vehicle and the traffic on and the conditions of the highway.”
But what is ‘reasonable’ and what is ‘prudent’?
The Dangers of Following Too Closely
There are two things to consider when trying to understand what is following too closely.
First, when driving, you probably need more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. It’s easy to think that when they stop, you will stop. But there is a certain amount of time between when they brake and you react. And your car can travel quite a distance in that time, especially when moving at higher speeds or in slippery road conditions.
Second, when you find out the dangers of following a car too closely, you’ll be less likely to do it.
The first and foremost reason that following too closely is dangerous, when you don’t have enough time to stop, is that you will collide with the vehicle in front of you. By itself, getting into a traffic accident will damage your vehicle and the vehicle of the person you hit. You will be delayed, and you may be liable for a ‘following too closely’ ticket.
But none of those are the worst part of a collision.
Personal Injury or Death
If there is something else that we underestimate when following too closely, it is how severe a personal injury that being hit from behind can cause.
Even at what seem like very slow speeds, drivers and passengers in the vehicle in front of you can suffer whiplash, concussions and other injuries. They can take months, even years to heal and rehabilitate.
At higher speeds, like those on a highway, drivers and passengers of the vehicle you collide with may suffer catastrophic injuries, including spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. They may also die.
Penalties of Conviction
These may not be ‘dangers’, but they are still serious. You can face one or more of the following penalties if you are convicted of “following too closely”.
- Fines: a minimum of $110 and a maximum of $500
- Demerit Points: 4
- Potential Driver’s Licence Suspension: 30 days
- Driving Record: a conviction on your driving record that can be used by your insurance company to increase your car insurance rates.
Protect Yourself Against Charges of Following Too Closely
Every “following too closely” case is different. The law is open to interpretation more than most. So it is crucial that you have a defence team with specific experience in fighting and winning against “following too closely” charges.
X-Copper’s team of qualified and experienced lawyers, former police officers and legal professionals understand the methods of the officers who charged you, and the procedures of the courts that will hear your case. We know how to help you avoid fines, demerit points, licence suspensions and higher car insurance rates.
If you found this post helpful, check out our recent article How to Get a Traffic Ticket Dismissal.