Close Encounters of the Accidental Kind

Close Encounters of the Accidental Kind

Published on:7th November,2017   Category: Road safety

One of the most common types of road accidents is when one vehicle hits the back of another vehicle.  This is commonly known a rear end motor vehicle accident.

Whiplash injuries and spinal injuries are common as a result of rear end motor vehicle accidents.  The occupants of both the front car and the rear car can suffer injury as a result of this type of accident.  Passengers in a car are owed a duty of car by the driver and other road users.  If you are a passenger in a car that has been in an accident you should seek legal advice about your rights.

Laws Against Following Too Close Behind Another Vehicle

The road rules in Queensland make it illegal for one car to follow too close to another car.  The rules state that a driver must drive a sufficient distance behind another vehicle so that the driver can, if necessary, stop safely to avoid a collision.[1]  The maximum penalty for following too close is a maximum of 20 penalty units.[2]

If one car is following too close to another it can create a dangerous situation because there is insufficient time for the rear car to stop if the first car comes to a sudden stop.

The road rules in Queensland do not specifically state how much distance to leave between your car and the car in front.   When considering how much distance to leave between you and the car in front think about whether you would have time to stop if the car in front came to a sudden stop.

If, however, the road conditions are less than ideal (for example if it is raining), then you should leave an even greater distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front.

If the vehicle in front is long or heavy (for example a truck) then it will take longer for that vehicle to come to a sudden stop.

Who is at Fault?

A common question that arises after a rear end motor vehicle accident is whether the front car is ever at fault for the accident or whether the rear car is always at fault for following too close.

In the majority of cases it is clear that the rear car is at fault as a result of following too close and failing to pay attention to the vehicle in front.  Working out who is at fault for this type of accident can sometimes be more difficult, for example, in cases where the vehicle in front has broken brake lights or where the driver in front is driving erratically.

It is best to get specific legal advice about the circumstances of your accident to work out who is at fault for causing the accident.  If you need expert advice about your rights on the road see MacDonnells Law today.


[1] Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Road Rules) Regulation 2009 (Qld) Section 126.

[2] A maximum fine of 20 penalty units is currently $2,523.00 (subject to increase).

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