Tucson: 520.571.9700 Yuma: 928.723.0088 Phoenix: 602.402.5207


Is Brake Checking Legal in Arizona?

By Karnas Law Firm |

Most drivers in Arizona have seen a vehicle in front of them slam on their brakes suddenly. Maybe you have even done it yourself. Sometimes, applying the brakes in such a quick manner is necessary to avoid an accident. Other times, though, it is done to send a signal to other drivers, and it may even cause an accident. In these cases, the driver that engaged in brake checking may be found negligent after an accident and be held liable for paying damages.

What is Brake Checking?

All drivers should keep a safe distance between their vehicle and the one in front of them. The general rule is that drivers should leave three seconds between them and the vehicle in front of them. To ensure they are leaving enough room, drivers should find a fixed object nearby. Once the car in front of them passes that object, the driver should then be able to count to at least three before passing the same object themselves.

Unfortunately, not all drivers use the three-second rule and they end up following other vehicles too closely. In these cases, the driver in front may become frustrated that someone else is following them so closely. They may tap, or even slam, on their brakes to warn the driver behind them to stop following them so closely. This is known as brake checking.

Brake checking is a dangerous action which could result in serious injuries such as whiplash, brain injuries, and even dislocated and broken bones. Due to the fact that brake checking is so dangerous, a person could even be charged with reckless driving if they cause an accident, and they could be found liable for paying damages.

Brake Checking and Comparative Negligence

In a situation when one driver brake checked and another hit them from behind, it is likely that both drivers would be found at fault. Brake checking is reckless behavior that can easily cause a crash, particularly if the driver in front believes the motorist behind them is following too closely. On the other hand, if the driver behind another vehicle is following too closely, that is also negligent behavior that can cause an accident.

Under Arizona’s comparative negligence law, two or more parties can be found liable in an accident. Due to the fact that Arizona follows comparative negligence law and not contributory negligence, accident victims can still claim damages even if they were 99 percent at fault for a crash. However, any damages they claim will be reduced by their same percentage of fault.

For example, one driver may follow another too closely. The driver in front may brake check, and an accident occurs. The driver who intentionally brake checked may be found 70 percent at fault for an accident, while the driver behind them was deemed to be 30 percent at fault. Each driver could file a claim for damages, but any compensation they received would be reduced by 70 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

Our Car Accident Lawyer in Tucson Can Help After a Crash

Determining liability after an accident is never easy, particularly when two or more parties are to blame. At Karnas Law Firm, PLLC, our Tucson car accident lawyer knows how to prove who was at fault and will hold them accountable for paying the maximum damages you are entitled to. Contact us now at (520) 214-8343 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.