Photo/Story Gallery 2003

Florida Highway Patrol Launches “Operation Tailgate”

Trooper Beck issues a citation for Following Too CloselyTroop G recently kicked off Operation Tailgate, an enforcement program designed to reduce traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities that occur as a result of drivers following too closely to other vehicles. Operation Tailgate will concentrate on large semi-trucks as well as other motorists who fail to follow at reasonable distances while traveling on Florida’s roadways. Following too closely is an aggressive driving behavior that sometimes leads to road rage and makes driving conditions more hazardous.

Pictured left: Trooper Bill Beck issues a citation for Following Too Closely.

Florida law requires that the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the highway. It is also unlawful for the driver of any semi tractor-trailer, outside of a residential or business district, to follow within 300 feet of another semi tractor-trailer. In Florida during 2001, rear end collisions accounted for 36% or 70,372 crashes out of a total of 192,453, making them by far the most common type of vehicle collision that occurred. As a result, 210 fatal crashes and 47,648 injury crashes occurred in rear end collisions.

Sergeant Thomason clocks vehicles speeding as well as following too closelyIt is recommended, by the Florida Driver License Handbook, that motorists driving passenger vehicles maintain at least a 2 to 3 second following distance from the vehicle ahead of them, and large semi trucks keep at least a 5 to 6 second following distance from the vehicle ahead of them.

Pictured right: Sergeant Pat Thomason clocks vehicles speeding as well as following too closely.

The increased recommended following distance in large trucks is due to the weight of the vehicle and additional distance needed to stop safely. To know how much space you have, wait until the vehicle ahead passes a shadow on the road, a pavement marking, or some other clear landmark. Then count off the seconds like this: “one thousand-and-one, one thousand-and-two” and so on, until you reach the same spot. After a little practice, you will know how far back you should be. Remember that when the road is slippery, you need much more distance to stop.

Innovative enforcement techniques will be utilized to quantify the distances of vehicles following each other, for later presentation in court if necessary.

Operation Tailgate will be conducted at least twice a week during the months of March and April (traditionally spring break months), which are the most dangerous months of the year for crashes and fatalities in Florida.

Following too closely is considered a moving violation, which carries a fine of $78.00 or more depending on county court costs, and three points assessed on the driver license record.