Following Distance – Following Too Close…

Law enforcement officers patrolling Interstate 40 in and around Amarillo commonly stop automobiles for following too close to the vehicle in front of them.

Section 545.062 of the Texas Transportation Code provides:

(a) An operator shall, if following another vehicle, maintain an assured clear distance between the two vehicles so that, considering the speed of the vehicles, traffic, and the conditions of the highway, the operator can safely stop without colliding with the preceding vehicle or veering into another vehicle, object, or person on or near the highway.

(b) An operator of a truck or of a motor vehicle drawing another vehicle who is on a roadway outside a business or residential district and who is following another truck or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle shall, if conditions permit, leave sufficient space between the vehicles so that a vehicle passing the operator can safely enter and occupy the space. This sub-section does not prohibit a truck or a motor vehicle drawing another vehicle from passing another vehicle.

(c) An operator on a roadway outside a business or residential district driving in a caravan of other vehicles or a motorcade shall allow sufficient space between the operator and the vehicle preceding the operator so that another vehicle can safely enter and occupy the space. This subsection does not apply to a funeral procession.

When investigating and defending these types of traffic stop cases, it is important to make sure that the law enforcement officer who initiated the traffic stop had specific facts that support the reason for the stop. Mere opinions of the officer are ineffective substitutes for specific, articulable facts in determining whether the traffic stop was reasonable and lawful. Ford v. State, 158 S.W.3d 488, 493 (Tex.Crim.App. 2005).