Road rage or aggressive driving is a common problem in Georgia and the rest of the country. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, aggressive driving is a factor in one out of every five traffic deaths in Georgia. Brake checking is just one example of aggressive driving behavior that endangers lives.

Here’s what it means to brake-check another driver, why it’s so dangerous, and what you can do if you have been hurt in a brake-checking car accident

What Is Brake Checking?

Brake checking occurs when a driver intentionally hits the brakes suddenly to force the driver behind them to react quickly. This behavior is intended to intimidate or retaliate against perceived tailgating. 

People engage in brake checking for various reasons. Some drivers feel annoyed by the car behind them following too closely and use brake checking to “teach them a lesson” or force them to back off. Others may do it out of frustration or as an impulsive reaction to perceived aggressive driving from another vehicle. 

Performing a brake check can seem like a logical response to tailgating in the heat of the moment, but it’s considered a form of aggressive driving. Far from getting the other driver to back off, it’s very likely to cause the other driver to slam into the brake checker. Triggering a rear-end collision endangers both drivers and may even involve other motorists if the following driver swerves in response. 

Is Brake Checking Illegal In Georgia?

In Georgia, brake checking is considered a form of aggressive driving. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-397 defines aggressive driving as operating a vehicle with the “intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person.” 

This can include behaviors such as: 

  • Brake checking
  • Failure to yield
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Flashing lights at another vehicle
  • Tailgating
  • Honking or gesturing
  • Cutting off another vehicle
  • Aggressive lane changes
  • Driving slowly to impede traffic

Brake checking can also be considered reckless driving or a willful disregard for the safety of others. Aggressive driving requires intent, and it is the more serious offense. However, Georgia courts have found that neither offense is included in the other. This means someone can be charged with both reckless and aggressive driving for the same incident.

Under Georgia law, aggressive driving is a misdemeanor of a “high and aggravated nature.” The penalty if convicted is a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 12 months in jail.

Who Is At Fault for a Brake Checking Accident?

It can be complicated to determine and prove fault in a brake check crash for several reasons: 

  • Both parties may have been negligent if tailgating and brake checking were involved
  • Drivers have a duty to maintain a safe following distance
  • There may be little if any, proof that the other driver was brake-checking

In a rear-end accident, the rear driver is usually presumed to be at fault. This is because motorists should leave a safe distance when following another vehicle. There are exceptions that make a lead driver at fault, including brake checking. However, this may be nullified, at least somewhat, if both drivers were engaging in the same offense of aggressive driving. 

Following too closely may be a contributing factor in the crash, but it may be given less weight than brake checking, especially if it was not intentional or done to intimidate or annoy the other driver.

To determine causation and liability, the insurance companies, court, and your lawyer will consider the circumstances of the crash, evidence, and factors involved. 

Your lawyer will investigate your accident to look for evidence that demonstrates the other driver was engaging in dangerous and aggressive driving. This can include dash cam or traffic cam footage, witness statements, the accident report, citations issued, and more.

Can You Still Recover Compensation If You Were Partially At Fault?

Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule. This means that even if you were partially at fault for the accident, you might still recover compensation as long as you were not 50% or more at fault. 

If you are less than half to blame for the accident, you may recover financial compensation, but it will be reduced according to your share of fault. For example, if you were found to be 40% at fault for tailgating while the other driver was 60% at fault for brake checking, you could still recover damages. In this case, your recovery will be reduced by 40%. If you were awarded $50,000 in damages, it would be reduced to just $30,000. 

Comparative negligence underscores the importance of gathering evidence and working with an experienced attorney to build a strong case. When liability is difficult to prove, or you are being blamed for the crash, your ability to recover money for your injuries may be at risk.

How To Respond To an Aggressive Driver

Most of us encounter aggressive drivers while driving in Georgia. Dealing with an aggressive driver can be frightening, or it may make you feel like responding in kind. 

Don’t give in to aggressive driving; responding with caution and calm is important to avoid escalating the situation and potentially endangering yourself and others. 

Look for a way to increase the distance between you and the other vehicle safely. You may also consider your driving behavior and whether you are contributing to a dangerous situation. There is no excuse for aggressive driving.

However, certain behaviors are common triggers, including: 

  • Tailgating
  • Driving slowly in a passing or carpool lane
  • Cutting off another driver
  • Distracted driving, such as using a cell phone
  • Weaving in and out of lanes

Resist the urge to confront the other driver, make eye contact, or retaliate. Do not underestimate how far another driver will go when they are experiencing road rage. Several studies have shown an increase in road rage shootings. Drivers are more likely to drive aggressively and engage in dangerous behavior like brake checking when they have a firearm in the vehicle. 

A Car Crash Lawyer Can Help After a Georgia Brake-Checking Accident

If you have been involved in an accident and believe it was caused by another driver brake-checking you, it’s important to contact a lawyer right away. Gathering evidence that proves you were not at fault is crucial to recovering the compensation you need, and it’s even more important when you may be presumed at fault. 

Contact the Columbus Car Accident Lawyers at Mark Casto Personal Injury Law Firm Today

If you were injured in an accident in Columbus, GA, and need legal help, contact our Columbus car accident lawyers at Mark Casto Personal Injury Law Firm to schedule a free case review today.

Mark Casto Personal Injury Law Firm
233 12th St #808, Columbus, GA 31901
(706) 940-4030