What Is Brake Checking?
Brake checking is the act of sharply hitting the brakes whilst driving with a vehicle behind you, with the intention of making the unsuspecting vehicle slam on their own brakes or swerve out of the way lest they cause an accident. It stems from the common thought that insurance companies would find the victim at fault for not leaving enough space to react or brake in the event of an emergency.
Why Do People Brake Check?
Brake checking is an extremely dangerous practice which can result in serious injury or death, as well as financially burdening if you are left to pay for repairs or lose your no claims bonus. Nonetheless, people gamble their own safety out of anger, more often than not over a simple mistake by another motorist.
There are two main reasons brake checking occurs.
You'll see this in many a dashcam compilation, motorists will dangerously overtake the party in which they're aggrieved with and slam on the brakes before speeding off again. It's also a very common response to being tailgated.
'Crash For Cash'
A little bit more sinister, but there are reports of some motorists brake checking to intentionally cause a collision in order to get either an insurance payout, cash in hand for the damages, or both. This is a nightmare in particular for personal car leasing and business car leasing customers as the repair must be fixed before it's returned.
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Is Brake Checking Illegal?
Brake checking is highly illegal, it's classed as dangerous driving which can carry up to a two year prison sentence and an unlimited fine. The consequences are (rightly) even more severe if a collision is caused resulting in a death. The maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving is 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.
If you weren't aware that brake checking is illegal, why not check out our article on other driving offences you didn't know were illegal?
Why Do People Brake Check Trucks?
People brake check trucks because truck drivers must react much quicker and harder than any other road user due to the sheer weight of the vehicle; It also takes them longer to speed back up again. This makes lorry drivers an easier target for insurance scams, though many drivers have began installing dash cams into the cabin of their trucks to provide video evidence of incidents.
What To Do If You Are Being Brake Checked
If you're certain you are being targeted by another motorist and they're trying to brake check you, try to leave as much space between you and the offending vehicle as possible - ideally a two second gap. This will often mean slowing right down, which may give you some anxiety as to what the motorists behind you are thinking, but it's better than going in to the back of the brake checker which would entail dealing with an even more irate person to exchange insurance details or worse, trying to pressure you into paying cash.
For obvious reasons you want to make all efforts to avoid a collision, however even if you do get brake checked which results in colliding with the vehicle in front, you may be accused of tailgating (which is also illegal), meaning you aren't keeping a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front.
Should You Report It To The Police?
You are welcome to report dangerous driving behaviour to the police however it is unlikely that any action will be taken unless you can provide evidence of the incident taking place. This could be in the form of video evidence whereby your passenger records footage from their mobile phone or you could simply use a dash cam. In cases where you have actually had damage done to your car as a result of making contact with the other vehicle and they have drove off without exchanging insurance details, you should absolutely report this to the police if you have their registration plate details.