Is Brake Checking Illegal?

When driving any vehicle it is highly important that you are responsible for your actions and safety when on the road.

As the driver, it is vital that you do not ever drive recklessly, dangerously or pose a threat to other road users by speeding, weaving in and out of traffic or other dangerous practices such as brake checking.

What is brake checking?

Brake checking is the act of quickly and sharply hitting your brakes when there is a car driving behind you, with the intention of making the driver behind slam onto their brakes in surprise. 

If you quickly press your brakes in order to check if the driver behind you responds by either slamming theirs, or swerving away from your vehicle, then you are brake checking them.

Is brake checking illegal

Why do people brake check?

The notion of brake checking came about because of the idea that if a car rear ends you, then they will naturally be at fault, and you can claim insurance money.

This stems from the claim that if the driver behind slams into the back of you, then they would naturally be to blame for not leaving enough space or reaction time between themselves and your vehicle.

This however is not true, as randomly pressing your brakes in order to gain a reaction from the driver behind is highly hazardous and dangerous.

The most common reason for drivers to brake check is because of road rage. Many people can become enraged by drivers tailgating or following behind their vehicles too closely.

To counteract this, they will tap the breaks quickly in order to get them to slam on to theirs and hopefully refrain from tailgating again.

Similarly, when drivers become angry and aggressive towards others, particularly for driving too slowly, they can overtake the other driver, and then pull in front and begin brake checking in order to anger the other driver back.

Additionally, drivers will partake in the act of brake checking in order to intentionally cause a crash or an accident. By randomly and unexpectedly slamming onto the brakes, the vehicle behind will need to react quickly and promptly to avoid rear ending the vehicle in front.

People tend to do this in order to cause a collision to get insurance payouts, or settle a few from the other driver, in a cash in hand manner. Many people choose not to go through insurance as it may affect their rates and no claims discounts, so paying cash up front to these drivers is tempting.

Is brake checking illegal?

Brake checking is of course highly illegal, and classed as dangerous driving as it can cause damage, collisions and even death in some cases.

If found guilty of brake checking, then you can receive up to a two year sentence and a huge fine for causing serious damage or danger.

Even more, if you cause a collision or death by dangerous driving, then the prison sentence will most likely rise to closer to 15 years imprisonment.

How to avoid being brake checked

The most common reason for brake checking is because of tailgating drivers. To avoid being brake checked by another driver, you should never tailgate anyone or try to incite a problem on the road.

You should always keep a safe distance from the car in front of you in order to protect yourself, and be able to apply your brakes in time for any given reason.

The best way to do this is to keep a two second distance between you and the driver in front of you, which will give you enough time to stop if the driver begins a brake check.

What to do if someone is brake checking you

You will know if someone is about to brake check you if they believe you have done something to anger them, for example if you accidentally cut in front of them, or drove inconsiderately.

If you have a dash camera, then ensure that it is turned on and functioning when travelling, in case of any incidents that may occur.

They will most likely overtake, or pull in front of you, and may begin to become aggressive or give road rage hand signals to you.

If this is the case, then try to stay calm and keep a safe distance between your car and the car in front. If you are driving within multiple lanes, then you should try to move away safely and slowly to avoid the situation.

The best way to counteract this situation is by driving safely, with a large gap between you and the brake checking driver. This will give you the best chance of stopping in time if they decide to slam onto their brakes.

If they follow you and try to pull in front and brake check you repeatedly, then remain calm and try to find a safe place to pull over or stop so that the driver can go away.

Who is most at risk of brake checking?

Lorry and truck drivers are the most at risk of brake checking as it takes a lot more time for a truck to brake, slow down and speed back up.

This is why many vehicles will try to pull in front of a truck and begin brake checking them as they believe they are easy targets to pull an insurance scam on.

How to prove you were brake checked

If you are nervous of other drivers and their actions on the road, then the best thing to do is purchase a dash cam. This can help you provide conclusive evidence and proof if someone is driving dangerously or performing a brake check on you.

Dash cams are also highly useful if there was a collision caused by a brake check and can prove that you were not at fault if a driver was brake checking you.


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