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Brake checking on San Diego freeways

The predictable response to tailgating

Overturned Scion on the 94 two weeks ago - Image by Raoul Estefania
Overturned Scion on the 94 two weeks ago

Raul Estefania was driving eastbound along the 94 after 2:30 pm on November 16 when he saw a black Scion tC sitting on its roofline on the side of the freeway. Just minutes before, "The car in front of [the Scion] brake checked them," Estefania said to me. "A car just doesn't randomly [brake] check you for no reason."

That Wednesday, while the traffic neared a crawl, Estefania snapped a photo of the upside-down mid-to-late 2000s Scion as cars from the 805 merged into the 94 freeway just feet away from the overturned vehicle.

"Maybe the guy in front of him cut him off, which made the [Scion] driver mad and started tailgating him," Estefania presumed. "Which then caused the 'brake check.' Dude lost control of his car and flipped the car over."

Louis Farris's BMW

Others who saw the accident scene on 619 News Media's video posted online felt the same way as Estefania — but a few people gave the Scion driver the benefit of the doubt, saying he was innocent.

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Some people driving simply panic and slam on the brakes, where no malice is intended, as in Louis Farris's case last year. Local BMW customizer Farris was driving his heavily modified pink-colored BMW in town when an "elderly man in his 70s was scared merging lanes and [suddenly] stomped on his brakes." Farris rear-ended the other car, and his Pink Panther was totaled. "He admitted fault and was extremely sorry and afraid," Farris said.

While there is no police report on the Scion yet, 619 News Media, one of the first on the scene, said, "According to the driver, he was 'brake checked' by another driver and swerved to avoid the accident. The driver hit a traffic sign and rolled onto an embankment. The driver suffered a minor cut to his hand and was transported to a nearby hospital."

A driver usually does brake checking to warn the driver of the vehicle behind them to back off; the brake lights are the warning signals. However, some brake checkers are more aggressive and slam on the brakes. So the vehicle in the rear either rams into the rear bumper or swerves out of the way.

It's illegal to brake check or tailgate – another form of driving aggressively, said Hunter Gerber from the California Highway Patrol in a FOX5SanDiego.com article in August.

In-vehicle cameras and some vehicles equipped with factory onboard cameras, people everywhere are exposing brake checkers and tailgaters. Michael Taveira posted one such video on YouTube in 2019. The video's title is "Brake-checking Lyft driver (San Diego)."

The video shows what appears to be a Toyota pull in front of the car with an onboard camera, then slowing down to about five mph, then making a complete stop. The Toyota driver then proceeds forward then turns right on San Dieguito Way.

The two aggressive driving reactions, tailgating and brake checking, Gerber continued in the Fox 5 San Diego interview, are “performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for the safety of others and are commonly referred to as road rage.”

The [AAA Foundation’s Annual Traffic Safety][3] in 2019: "Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the previous 30 days."

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Overturned Scion on the 94 two weeks ago - Image by Raoul Estefania
Overturned Scion on the 94 two weeks ago

Raul Estefania was driving eastbound along the 94 after 2:30 pm on November 16 when he saw a black Scion tC sitting on its roofline on the side of the freeway. Just minutes before, "The car in front of [the Scion] brake checked them," Estefania said to me. "A car just doesn't randomly [brake] check you for no reason."

That Wednesday, while the traffic neared a crawl, Estefania snapped a photo of the upside-down mid-to-late 2000s Scion as cars from the 805 merged into the 94 freeway just feet away from the overturned vehicle.

"Maybe the guy in front of him cut him off, which made the [Scion] driver mad and started tailgating him," Estefania presumed. "Which then caused the 'brake check.' Dude lost control of his car and flipped the car over."

Louis Farris's BMW

Others who saw the accident scene on 619 News Media's video posted online felt the same way as Estefania — but a few people gave the Scion driver the benefit of the doubt, saying he was innocent.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Some people driving simply panic and slam on the brakes, where no malice is intended, as in Louis Farris's case last year. Local BMW customizer Farris was driving his heavily modified pink-colored BMW in town when an "elderly man in his 70s was scared merging lanes and [suddenly] stomped on his brakes." Farris rear-ended the other car, and his Pink Panther was totaled. "He admitted fault and was extremely sorry and afraid," Farris said.

While there is no police report on the Scion yet, 619 News Media, one of the first on the scene, said, "According to the driver, he was 'brake checked' by another driver and swerved to avoid the accident. The driver hit a traffic sign and rolled onto an embankment. The driver suffered a minor cut to his hand and was transported to a nearby hospital."

A driver usually does brake checking to warn the driver of the vehicle behind them to back off; the brake lights are the warning signals. However, some brake checkers are more aggressive and slam on the brakes. So the vehicle in the rear either rams into the rear bumper or swerves out of the way.

It's illegal to brake check or tailgate – another form of driving aggressively, said Hunter Gerber from the California Highway Patrol in a FOX5SanDiego.com article in August.

In-vehicle cameras and some vehicles equipped with factory onboard cameras, people everywhere are exposing brake checkers and tailgaters. Michael Taveira posted one such video on YouTube in 2019. The video's title is "Brake-checking Lyft driver (San Diego)."

The video shows what appears to be a Toyota pull in front of the car with an onboard camera, then slowing down to about five mph, then making a complete stop. The Toyota driver then proceeds forward then turns right on San Dieguito Way.

The two aggressive driving reactions, tailgating and brake checking, Gerber continued in the Fox 5 San Diego interview, are “performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for the safety of others and are commonly referred to as road rage.”

The [AAA Foundation’s Annual Traffic Safety][3] in 2019: "Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the previous 30 days."

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