What is tailgating, you might wonder! It is driving too close to the vehicle ahead of you. Or it is to be unmindful of the safety distance between your vehicle and the one in front. How frequently have you driven like that? And have you been intimidated by someone driving too close to you with horns blaring and headlamps flashing?
There is quite a number of infuriating driving habits that you encounter on your daily commute; however, none comes as close to giving you bad moments as tailgating. A survey recently conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety found out that apart from being victims to tailgaters, many drivers routinely engage in tailgating without conscious awareness.
Interestingly, over 70 percent of drivers say they have been tailgated at one time or the other over the past 3 months, but less than 10 percent of them have admitted to being tailgaters. What does this indicate? Either many of them are not aware of what tailgating means or they take it to be an ordinary happening on the road.
Whichever your reasoning is, tailgating is not only terribly annoying, but it is also a dangerous driving habit that you should avoid anytime you are driving. It completely eliminates the braking distance you have, and the reaction time required to adjust to any unforeseen emergency. Apart from being quite a selfish way of driving, it can turn out to be very expensive when an accident occurs.
Many pileup road crashes, some of which have ended in fatalities, happen because of this risky way of driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety, about 25 percent of all rear-end collisions result from tailgating which accounts for nearly 100,000 injuries and over 2000 deaths annually. With such shocking figures of deaths and injuries in mind, how can you effectively deal with a tailgater or stop being a tailgater?
Passive and Aggressive Tailgaters
Before we look at various safe options of dealing with tailgating, let us consider the types of tailgaters you find on the roads. If you haven’t been aware of your tailgating habit, here is how to know. There are passive and aggressive types.
Aggressive tailgaters leave no doubt that their intention is to push you off the road so that they can pass. They normally drive up close to your rear, honk and toot their horns, and flash their headlamps in ways that shouts “Give space or I’ll drive over you.”
On the other hand, passive tailgaters give no indication of their intention to pass you. In fact, they will gladly follow as you lead, but they keep too close to your rear. A glimpse of your rearview mirror might make you think their faces are right in your backseat! It is likely an unconscious driving habit of a driver, whose mind is only half on the road, meaning they are not concentrating or they simply don’t give any care about a safe driving distance.
Dealing with Tailgaters
Authorities may wrongly penalize you for an accident that is not of your making. It would be unfortunate for you to get a ticket or an insurance point on your driver’s license because when you apply for insurance coverage, the premium you get charged could rise as a result of such negative information on your driving record. Here are ways of shaking off a tailgater.
- If the tailgater is the aggressive type, your only safe option is to allow them to get ahead- let them pass. Never be tempted to devise tricks to annoy or hold them up. That will only make them madder! Since they are already predisposed to aggression, they will never let you drive in peace.
- If you're not in a hurry to get anywhere, pick a slow lane. In many roads, the right lane is ideal and in some cases its the law in some states to be in a slow lane if you're not passing.
- To deal with yourself, always leave enough space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. It is an assured means of avoiding multiple crashes. It is always safer to allow a couple car lengths at slower speeds, but the gap should be larger if the conditions on the road are wet or you are both driving at high speeds.
- Adjust your speed to that of the entire fleet on the particular stretch of road. It pays nothing to be a traffic bottleneck. If you cannot drive faster, allow other vehicles free passage.
- Do not force aggressive drivers into unpredictable actions that may cause more problems by trying to make them back off.
- Always work at remaining calm because if your stress levels increase, it could lead to another potentially risky incident. If you get flustered and lose control of your emotions, what is to stop you from losing control of the car?
- Attempt not to try teaching tailgaters any lesson while you are driving because mostly they are not even aware of what they are doing.
- Your driving, if it is too slow, might aggravate the situation, so always make a self-assessment of how you are driving. Do not make the motorists behind you impatient and frustrated by hogging the entire lane in slow drive.
- Always use your indicators to alert the next driver of what you are about to do. By tailgating you, it means their reaction time is reduced.
- Maintaining the 3 second rule of the following distance from the vehicle ahead.
By the way, have you realized that at no time has tailgating got you anywhere faster? However close you edge to the next vehicle, you will never get ahead. You will simply succeed in stressing yourself further. And have you realized that you tailgate only when you are running late in most cases, and that lateness is a direct result of not planning ahead. So plan ahead and save the day with save driving!