You're driving down the highway listening to your favorite radio station when all of a sudden you see a car speeding behind you in your rearview mirror. They look like they're going faster than you are so you're hoping they change lanes and just go around you.

Before you know it, they're right behind you and following a little closer than you'd like. You see it happen all the time, no matter where you're driving. I know everyone hates when they are being tailgated by another vehicle but is this actually illegal to do in Iowa?

Unsplash - William Bout
Unsplash - William Bout

If you're someone who doesn't like to speed, being tailgated is something that can happen a lot. I would guess most average drivers go about 5 mph over the speed limit so if you're like me and drive pretty close to what the posted limit is, you can find yourself in this situation on a regular basis. Now, if you're hogging the left lane and you know you're driving slower than other cars, that's on you. Move to the right lane and let the cars pass you.

Tailgating Law

According to Injury Claim Coach, it is technically illegal to drive too close behind someone. IA Code 321.307 or the "Following Too Closely" rule, reads as

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.

I reached out to Black Hawk County Sherrif, Tony Thompson, he said the fine for "following too closely" is "a $135.00 scheduled fine plus the 15% surcharge ($20.25) and $60.00 court cost, for a total of $210.25."

Most students in driver's ed are taught about the 3-second driving rule. This requires drivers to leave at least 3 seconds of space between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. One way for you to judge if you're leaving enough space between you and other cars is to find a sign, a tree, or any marker by the roadway and when the car in front passes that marker, start counting. If your car passes the marker before you get to 3, you'll want to slow down and leave more space. If you want to drive at a faster speed, you'll have to wait until you can find a safe moment to pass them.

What To Do If You're Being Tailgated

If you find yourself in a situation where you believe the car behind you is driving too close to you, it's important to remain calm. Here are steps you should take if you're in a tailgating situation, according to Progressive.

  • Remain Calm - avoid yelling or any gestures towards the tailgater
  • Let the tailgater pass - if you're on a multi-lane road, you should be in the right lane to allow the faster car to pass. If you're on a single-lane road, you can pull over into a well-lit area, such as a gas station, and let the car pass.
  • Stay Steady - Keep your speed consistent so the car behind you knows what to expect. This can help allow them to pass when they have a chance
  • Don't Slam Your Breaks - Slamming on your breaks may be satisfying at the moment but causing an accident is not a good move. If you need to slow down, do so slowly and steadily to give the car behind you time to reduce its speed.
  • Be Cautious - Use caution in your movements and pay attention to what's going on everywhere on the road. Do not only focus on what's going on behind you

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