State Police Looking for Highway Tailgaters, Have Advice

One of the most important ways to avoid an accident: Keep enough distance between your vehicle and the one ahead -- and avoid a ticket, too.

(Woodbury-Middlebury Patch file photo)
(Woodbury-Middlebury Patch file photo)

One of the best ways you can avoid a vehicle accident is to avoid driving too closely behind the car in front of you -- a major reason for accidents in Connecticut, according to state police.

This month, as state police step up an enforcement campaign to spot and ticket "tailgating" drivers on state highways, troopers have so far handed out 182 tickets and 24 warnings in the central part of the state.

Connecticut State Police Central District Troopers based at Troops in Bethany, Hartford and Westbrook are looking for drivers following too closely in a law enforcement project police are calling "Stop Tailgating, You're Too Close!"

State police recommend that you follow the "three-second rule" for driving behind other vehicles. See more on that, below.

Here's a compilation of quotes from two  recent State Police news releases  about tailgating, the enforcement project and what advice police have for safe driving:

This State Police tailgating enforcement project will focus on limited access highways in the greater Hartford, New Haven, Meriden, Middletown and Old Saybrook areas on the following highways: I-84, I-91, I-95, I-691, Routes 8, 9 and 15.

What is tailgating?

Tailgating is defined as a driver following too closely behind another motorist. This is an aggressive driving behavior and the leading cause of injury/non-injury related accidents.

Why tailgating is a problem?

Following too closely, or 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. A review of State Police Central District accident data collected in 2013 shows that following too closely accounts for the cause in approximately 40% of all accidents within the Central State Police Troop areas. These rear-end collisions are most frequent during weekday commute hours in clear weather and on dry roads.

What does this 'Stop Tailgating, You're Too Close' project hope to accomplish?

The intent of this project is to educate all motorists to maintain a safe following distances, with the goal of voluntary compliance by all drivers to reduce the number of rear-end collision accidents and aggressive driving habits. 

The project will run during the month of March 2014 and will consist of an educational component and then high visibility of Troopers throughout the Central Troop areas to strictly enforce following too close/tailgating violations. 

The Connecticut Department of Transportation will support this ‘Stop Tailgating’ project by posting ‘Tailgating Enforcement Zone’ on overhead message boards along designated areas of these highways to remind motorists of this project. In addition, new technology will be provided by DOT to State Troopers working in this operation.

What is a safe following distance while driving?

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 55mph this time and distance should increase accordingly.

Who are partners in the project?

Connecticut State Police – Troop H, Hartford / Troop I, Bethany / Troop F, Westbrook, Connecticut Department of Transportation - Highway Safety Office.

Connecticut laws related to tailgating 

Each violation carries a fine of $132. Drivers who tailgate will be cited for these moving violations whether or not a rear-end collision occurs.


Troopers are undertaking this campaign to reduce the number of crashes that take place on central Connecticut roads and highways. This is not a ticket campaign but enforcement action will be taken when violations are observed by Troopers.

"Maintaining a safe following distance is more than being a good driver – it’s the law."

Craig Zac March 18, 2014 at 08:11 AM
Following too closely, or 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" Youre telling me because if im right on your butt, tailgating you in the left lane, youre going too slow!!! I don't care if youre doing 75, 80, 90...if someone is on your butt, move over and let them pass! All you egotistical ninnies out there all think youre going to teach the world a lesson and be spitefull by doing 65 in the laft lane are a bunch of inconsiderate jerks who need to be thrown out into the right lane! You wonder why there are cars tailgating you, passing you on the right, giving you the finger... well, that's why! And another thing, when in the left lane, if the person behind you is flashing their lights, you should pull over to let them pass, again, its not up to you to decide how fast others can go, if someone wants to pass, you HAVE to let them pass you on the left, that means if youre in the left lane, MOVE OVER!!!
Craig Zac March 18, 2014 at 08:17 AM
If everyone drove three seconds apart I'd never get where I am going, theres just too much traffic out there don't you all get it? try driving up to Ansonia from New haven on RTE 34 at like 5:20-ish on a week day! or try coming north on I95 in Fairfield county on a sunny summer Friday at ANY time after 2pm. Try driving on RTE 84 either direction into or out of Hartford at any time...lol Its crazy. then add to all the cars, a few folks going 10-15 miles UNDER the limit and then a few more going 10-20 OVER the limit and tail gating is not the biggest problem!
Craig Zac March 18, 2014 at 08:22 AM
...And I agree 100% With Brandon Stevens about the State Police driving as bad or worse than anyone elses on the roads... How many times have you had a state cop suddenly appear right up your butt on the highway? so you get over and WHOOSH!!!! off they go like a bat out of hell. I guess its time we all install dash and rearview cameras and video tape these guys, ya know, keep em honest so to speak. they aren't that much $$ and can save your butt in times of trouble too. Is it me or does it seem like now a days, the police seem to treat us all as if we were all common criminals, they no longer protect and serve, they are more or less acting as prison guards and we are all inmates of the state of CT!
Craig Zac March 18, 2014 at 08:25 AM
"The Connecticut Department of Transportation will support this ‘Stop Tailgating’ project by posting ‘Tailgating Enforcement Zone’ on overhead message boards along designated areas of these highways to remind motorists of this project. " I HATE thos signs, they are a total distraction to drivers, I cant tell you how many times I have almost driven into the next lane while looking up at one of those over head signs and trying to read it... Also, watch next time youre coming up on one when youre still a good distance away from it, watch how many cars hit their breaks when they get close to the sign, I guess its a natural response to hit your breaks when trying to read it, sorta like turning the radio down when your looking at house numbers or street signs, trying to find an address or street! lol
Debbie March 24, 2014 at 08:12 AM
I do not find name calling, as if we are two years old, beneficial in this conversation ie: egotistical ninnies, etc. Whatever happened to being kind with words we use? Also, a little patience, goes a long way. Empathy: Older driver who must drive to get food, Dr. Appts, etc. For those with no patience/empathy for especially the elderly; may you live to be old enough to annoy the "young" driver someday! Then and only then will you understand the struggles elderly residents deal with on a daily basis just to survive. Find some kindness in your heart and words! p.s. there are areas on some of our highways, where if your in the slow lane, you must move into the speed lane to let oncoming ramp traffic merge on: EX: entrance ramp/merging area is appx 300 ft. long and it is only a 2 lane highway..... Old Saybrook (95) heading toward Westbrook/Clinton comes to mind. Also The Merrit Parkway in Wallingford has a really short entrance ramp... There are many more... Just slow down and be kind to one another!


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