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Brake Checking: Safety, Myths, and Facts

June 20, 2024

Brake checking is a dangerous driving behavior that involves a driver intentionally hitting their brakes hard to surprise or intimidate the driver behind them. This aggressive tactic can lead to severe accidents and has significant legal and safety implications. In this blog, we will delve into the safety concerns, debunk common myths, and present the facts about brake checking.

What is Brake Checking?

Brake checking occurs when a driver deliberately brakes suddenly to force the vehicle behind to also brake abruptly. This act can be a reaction to tailgating, road rage, or an attempt to cause a collision for fraudulent insurance claims. Regardless of the reason, brake checking is illegal and extremely hazardous.

Safety Concerns of Brake Checking

  • Accident Risk: Brake checking can cause rear-end collisions, which are one of the most common types of car accidents. These collisions can lead to severe injuries or fatalities.
  • Chain Reaction Crashes: A sudden stop can create a domino effect, leading to multiple vehicles being involved in a crash.
  • Injury Severity: The abrupt deceleration can cause whiplash and other serious injuries to the occupants of both vehicles.

Myths About Brake Checking

1. Myth: Brake checking teaches tailgaters a lesson.

  • Fact: Brake checking is more likely to cause an accident than to teach the driver behind a lesson. It’s an aggressive and dangerous response to tailgating.

2. Myth: Brake checking isn’t illegal.

  • Fact: Brake checking is considered reckless driving and is illegal in most jurisdictions. It can lead to hefty fines, points on your driving record, and even jail time.

3. Myth: Only the rear driver is at fault in rear-end collisions.

  • Fact: While the rear driver is often at fault in rear-end collisions, if brake checking can be proven, the driver who brake checked may also be held liable.

Facts About Brake Checking

  1. Legal Consequences: Drivers found guilty of brake checking can face significant legal consequences, including fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment.
  2. Insurance Implications: Brake checking can complicate insurance claims. If it’s proven that a driver brake checked, they may be held responsible for the accident.
  3. Technological Evidence: With the advent of dash cams and telematics, proving brake checking has become easier, providing concrete evidence in legal disputes.

Statistics on Brake Checking and Rear-End Collisions

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions account for approximately 29% of all traffic accidents in the United States.
  • Studies show that aggressive driving behaviors, including brake checking, contribute to nearly 56% of all fatal crashes.
  • Insurance fraud involving staged accidents, which often include brake checking, costs the insurance industry billions of dollars annually.

How to Handle Tailgating Safely

  1. Maintain a Safe Speed: Keep a steady speed and avoid sudden braking.
  2. Move Over: If it’s safe, change lanes to let the tailgater pass.
  3. Stay Calm: Avoid engaging with aggressive drivers. Your safety is more important than “teaching someone a lesson.”

What to Do If You’re a Victim of Brake Checking

  1. Stay Calm: Try to remain calm and avoid escalating the situation.
  2. Collect Evidence: Use a dash cam to record the incident, if possible. Gather witness statements and take photos of any damage.
  3. Report to Authorities: Contact the police and file a report. Provide them with all the evidence you’ve collected.
  4. Consult an Attorney: If you were injured or your vehicle was damaged, consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss your options.


Brake checking is a reckless and dangerous behavior that can have severe legal and safety consequences. Understanding the myths and facts about brake checking can help drivers make better decisions on the road and promote safer driving practices. If you find yourself a victim of brake checking, it’s crucial to handle the situation calmly and seek legal assistance if necessary.

If you’ve been involved in a brake checking incident and need legal assistance, contact us today to ensure your rights are protected. Our experienced attorneys at Mercado & Sacramento, PC are here to help you every step of the way.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Assist

California car accident lawyers play a crucial role in helping victims of car accidents secure compensation for their injuries. They adeptly navigate the legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and tirelessly advocate for fair compensation to address medical expenses, lost wages, and the emotional toll of pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a car accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to Mercado & Sacramento, PC Auto Accident Attorneys for a free case evaluation. Our experienced legal team is committed to protecting your rights and assisting you in obtaining the financial compensation you rightfully deserve.

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