Yet Another Reason Not to Tailgate

Florida state officials' tips to help motorists avoid being victimized by staged crashes start with not tailgating.

A July 31 tip sheet posted by the Florida Highway Patrol is meant to help motorists in the state avoid staged crashes and similar fraudulent schemes. The patrol works with the state Department of Financial Services' Division of Insurance Fraud and the National Insurance Crime Bureau to prevent staged crashes in Florida.

Criminals use paid witnesses, unethical attorneys, and corrupt medical providers to carry out these frauds. They include three basic schemes (with videos demonstrating all three available from links at this patrol web page):

  • Swoop and Squat: The driver of Vehicle 1, who is in on the scheme, purposely drives a short distance in front of an innocent driver, when the driver of Vehicle 2, also in on the scheme, suddenly swoops in front of Vehicle 1. The driver of Vehicle 1 hits his brakes and causes a rear-end collision with the victim behind him.
  • Drive Down: When a driver is trying to merge into traffic, a scheming driver slows down and waves the victim forward. Once the victim proceeds, the schemer crashes into the victim's vehicle and denies to law enforcement that he waved the other driver through and blames the crash on the other driver.
  • Panic Stop: The scheming driver of a vehicle drives in front of a victim. An observer in the schemer's vehicle waits for the victim to take his eyes off the road, for example to text or talk to a passenger, then signals the driver to slam the brakes to create a rear-end collision.

The department's advice for avoiding a staged crash:

  • Never tailgate.
  • Call law enforcement to a crash scene.
  • Use a camera to document any crash damage and the number of passengers in other vehicles.
  • Avoid people who suddenly appear at a crash scene and try to direct you to doctors and attorneys.
  • Be wary of physicians who insist you file a personal injury claim after a crash, especially if you are not hurt.
  • Avoid tow trucks that arrive on the scene without anyone having called for service.
  • If you are a witness of a crash, provide details to law enforcement officers.

For more information on staged crashes, visit this website.

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