Following Too Closely
This code section prohibits following another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway. Subsection (b) is important in the context of CMVs. It requires a vehicle towing another vehicle upon a roadway outside a business or residential district, and which is following another vehicle, to leave enough space to permit an “overtaking” vehicle to enter and occupy the space in between. The same rule is applied to vehicles traveling in a “caravan” or motorcade, except for funeral processions and vehicles under the supervision of law enforcement. A CMV driver’s second conviction for following too closely in a three year period will result in a 60 day disqualification from the operation of a CMV. Thus, this Rule of the Road is important is assessing a motor carrier’s liability, should it continue to allow a driver with more than one conviction over that time period to drive a CMV.
Under Georgia law, a guilty plea for this or any moving violation of state law, if left unrebutted by the defendant, is a conclusive admission of guilt that can be used in a civil case. To rebut the presumption that he or she was following too closely, the driver must present sufficient competent evidence that they were following at a reasonable and prudent distance and were traveling at a speed that was reasonable and prudent given the traffic ahead, the speed of the traffic, and the condition of the highway. Mere statements by the driver that the accident “happened so fast,” that he was not following too closely, and that he did not feel he was guilty of violating the statute are insufficient proof to rebut the admission created by his guilty plea.Significantly, if a defendant fails to rebut the presumed admission of negligence per se created by a guilty plea and the plaintiff has otherwise proven that the violation was a proximate cause of the collision and injury, it is error for the trial court to deny a plaintiff’s motion for directed verdict on the issue of the defendant’s negligence.