Technology helps troopers track tailgaters

State police are now using lasers to detect tailgating on the highway.
Published: .
Updated: .

Indiana State Police are now using a new laser speed gun to ticket drivers for more than just going too fast.

Now, technology is helping troopers determine if you're tailgating the car in front of you. If you're caught, expect a fine of about $150.

You've probably seen those laser guns used to catch speeders. But now, state troopers have a tool to track tailgaters - the trucks and cars that frustrate drivers and pose a hazard on the highway.

"It is frustrating! They're right on you," one driver said.

"That happened to me just the other day and they were close," another driver added.

"It's also frightening," said driver Cynthia Vlasich, "because you don't know if they can stop in time and you don't want to be rear-ended."

The laser speed guns being used now pinpoints distance between cars. They triangulate speed, time and distance, crunch the numbers, and provide solid proof of dangerous driving. Troopers are using them all over the state to ticket tailgaters.

They're focused on semis and commercial vehicles, but track cars too.

"There's a ton of vehicles out there that are following too closely, but it's hard to single out a vehicle that's following too closely until we started using equipment like this," explained Indiana State Police Trooper Chris Kath. "It lays out in specific terms and specific feet and seconds how close they actually were to the vehicle ahead of them."

Police say safe distance follows the three-second rule. In perfect weather conditions, that's about 200 feet between cars going the speed limit on the highway. Drivers should increase their distance even more when weather conditions worsen.

But troopers see people following way too closely every day, which could easily lead to chain-reaction crashes.

"That guy is .59 seconds behind the other car at 63 feet, 70 miles an hour. It's extremely too close in these heavy traffic conditions," Trooper Kath pointed out on I-465. "It's an extremely prevalent problem."

But it's a problem new technology is now trying to stop. Troopers in northwest Indiana have two laser speed guns that come equipped with video capabilities. That allows them to take a image of your license plate too.

Video additions may be used in central Indiana, if more funding becomes available.