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Is Brake Checking Illegal in Illinois?

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Posted on April 30, 2023

Brake checking is the act of slamming on the brakes suddenly while driving in front of another vehicle, with the goal of getting the other driver to slam on their brakes or swerve out of the way. Individuals often brake check in order to try to prevent a serious car accident by ensuring there are no drivers following too closely. However, brake checking is illegal in the state of Illinois, and this practice can lead to dangerous consequences.

Noble Goals, Questionable Methods

If you have ever been driving along in your vehicle and noticed that the driver behind you is following entirely too closely (we have all been there), then you may understand the urge to find a way to get that driver to back up a little bit. Often, the method that people use to get the vehicle to back away from them is a quick “brake check.” However, a quick brake check is not harmless. Yes, there are times when individuals brake check and achieve their desired goal, but that is not always the case.

The Consequences of Brake Checking

The consequences of brake checking far outweigh any benefits a person may receive. Even though a brake checker may be successful in getting someone to back off sometimes, there will inevitably be an accident for those who continue to brake check.

The most obvious and immediate consequence of brake checking is that the rear driver slams into the back of the vehicle that performed the brake check. This can lead to an immense level of property damage, not to mention any injuries caused to those inside the vehicles involved. An entire host of injuries, including whiplash and concussions, could occur. Property damage could reach thousands of dollars or even total a vehicle.

Perhaps even worse than a rear-end accident caused by brake checking is the potential for road rage incidents. When individuals get brake checked, they often lose their temper. They may lose their temper regardless of whether or not the brake-checking incident actually causes an accident. A recent story out of Florida shows that two fathers exchanged gunfire and ended up shooting each other’s daughters in an incident that involved both drivers brake-checking one another shortly before the shooting began.

Brake Checking and Accident Compensation

Drivers who brake check and then get rear-ended or otherwise cause an accident may think that they are free and clear and will not have to pay compensation to others. After all, a rear-end accident is typically the rear driver’s fault, right?

Not always.

Brake checking is an act of negligence. It is an intentional act of negligence. If the rear driver can prove that the front driver brake checked and that the brake checking likely caused the accident, fault for the incident may actually fall on the driver who performed the brake check in the first place.

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident involving brake checking, we encourage you to reach out to a skilled personal injury lawyer in Illinois who can help you through this process.