State Police highway tailgating enforcement effort viewed as a success

The State Police have concluded a month-long enforcement and education effort to discourage tailgating by drivers in central parts of the state, including on sections of Route 8.

Operation Stop Tailgating was conducted in March by State Police troops in Bethany, Hartford and Westbrook, focusing on seven limited-access highways in the regions they cover — Interstate 84, I-91, I-95, I-691, and Routes 8, 9 and 15.

“Maintaining a safe following distance is more than being a good driver — it’s the law,” State Police officials said.

Accidents decrease during the operation

During March, the number of motor vehicle crashes within this central district decreased by 11% when compared with the same month in 2013, according to the State Police.

According to statistics, the State Police issued 732 infractions for tailgating in this region during March 2014, compared to 128 infractions in March 2013. That’s a 465% increase in the number of tickets issued.

Advisory signs, stepped-up enforcement

The project involved a three-part approach intended to reduce tailgating, and was launched based on statistical data to reduce accidents cased on tailgating.

This included an educational component through the use of state Department of Transportation (DOT) highway advisory boards, public education through the media, and aggressive enforcement activities by the State Police. Additionally, State Police personnel are working with DOT to make highway engineering improvements.

DOT supported the Stop Tailgating project by posting ‘Tailgating Enforcement Zone’ on overhead message boards along designated areas of these highways and by providing laser devices used to measure the distance between vehicles.

What is tailgating?

When a driver follows too closely behind another motorist, it’s an aggressive driving behavior and the leading cause of accidents, according to State Police officials.

A review of the agency’s 2013 accident data for the central district shows that following too closely was the cause of about 40% of all accidents. Data also reveals that these rear-end collisions are most frequent during weekday commuting hours in clear weather and on dry roads.

Tailgating is common poor driving behavior that can result in dangerous rear-end collisions and easily be mistaken for aggressive driving leading to road rage.

What is a safe distance?

Connecticut law states no driver shall follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having regard for the speed of such vehicle, the traffic, the condition of the highway, and weather conditions.

Nationally, the “three-second rule” is recognized for passenger cars and light duty trucks traveling in ideal conditions. When the back-end of the vehicle ahead of you passes a fixed object, you count how long it takes you to pass this same object — “one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand.”

During less than ideal driving conditions or at speeds exceeding 55 mph, the distance should increase accordingly.

Connecticut laws

Connecticut has two laws governing these situations — Statute 14-240: Vehicles to be Driven Reasonable Distance Apart, and Statute 14-240a: Vehicles to be Driven Reasonable Distance Apart with Intent to Harass/Intimidate.

The fine for violations is $132. Drivers who tailgate will be cited for these moving violations whether or not a rear-end collision occurs.