The Truth About How Close You Can Drive Behind Someone In Minnesota?
On my way to work today, I noticed that everyone was driving faster than normal. I’m always someone who drives 5-7 over the speed limit, but today I was going 10 over, and so many cars were still tailgating and passing me!
I was thinking about it all day and I actually don’t know if there is anything in Minnesota that states if this is legal or not.
Thankfully someone else asked a similar question to Sgt. Jesse Grabow, Minnesota State Patrol.
What are the laws or rules when it comes to drivers who tailgate? What can a person do to keep them from putting lives in danger? I haven’t heard or read anything for a long time about the 3 second rule, is that still a recommendation?
Sgt. Jesse Grabow very helpful answer:
Excellent topic! I understand your concern and frustration. I believe "following too close" is one of the most under-reported factors in crashes. The reason I say this is based on my experiences while traveling and watching traffic in general. Minnesota State Statute 169.18 Sub.8a says, "The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the conditions of the highway."
While there is no requirement on a specific distance, unless towing a trailer, this is where good common sense should come into play, points out Sgt. Grabow.
Defensive driving instructors now teach what we call the 3-Second-Plus Following Distance Rule. Watch the vehicle in front of you. When that vehicle gets past an object such as a sign, pole, bridge, etc., then count off three seconds. You should not arrive at that spot sooner than your count to three. If you do, then you are following too close.
Sgt Grabow adds that you must add one second for every hazard that exists. Hazards include but are not limited to "heavy traffic, rain, snow, fog, and driving into the sun. In some cases, you might have to allow six, or seven seconds (or even more) to be safe because of existing hazards."
Wow! Good to know that there is an updated rule since there is no actual law. I think this is where we tend to have a misconception. While you should not follow a car too closely, everyone (and every car) has a different meaning of close.
Grabow also states the following:
Not everyone who follows other vehicles real close wants to pass you. Some drivers have developed a habit of driving that way all the time.
We get many complaints of trucks following too close. Contrary to popular belief, crash facts show a much larger number of cars and pickup trucks being involved in fatal rear-end crashes than semi-truck tractors pulling trailers.
If someone is following you too close, consider the following:
- Get out of their way; disengage.
- Stay calm — reaching your destination safely is your goal.
- Do not challenge them.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Ignore gestures and don’t return them.
- Report aggressive and dangerous driving (vehicle description, license number, location).
If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Jesse Grabow, Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.