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T is for Tailgaters

Tailgaters are a fact of driving; there are people are out there who simply for one reason or another drive too close to the car in front. Is it the “me first” syndrome or something else? So what options do we have when we are being tailgated?
me-first Now, I am going to group some of the ‘options’ together simply to save time. A lot of people think it is a good idea to either… “Keep tapping the brake to put the lights on and off, putting the windscreen washers on so that the care behind gets a soaking, putting the headlights and tail lights on and off, putting the fog lights on, putting the hazard warning lights or even giving unofficial hand signals! Phew.

Now all of the above will only antagonize the tailgater, even the driver who may well have just got too close accidentally, you are now engaged in some sort of psychological game with someone you do not even know, a game with no winners.

Your concentration is likely to be on the following driver and not on the road in front, you will be distracted and you might have to do the one thing you don’t actually want to do that is brake sharply to avoid a collision to the front, because something has happened that you did not notice or noticed too late, because your focus in on the person behind you. However, it has to be said that it is the one thing you really feel like doing just to simply slam on the brakes and let them “have a bit of that” but you know there could be consequences to slamming on and that you could end up with your own fatality.

Anyway, I think you get the point. One of the more ‘serious’ options I have heard someone say is to apply the parking brake, as this will slow the car down with no warning to the following driver. I hope you agree that this is not only really dangerous but just plain stupid too! Not only for the following driver but for the person being tailgated too. If you choose this option you could be hit from behind by the following driver who may not even had a chance to do any braking!

A more unusual and really stupid option was offered up from a lady who I met on a driving course who said that she throws mint imperials out of the sun roof! Imagine how this lady would feel if the following driver swerved to avoid this and knocked over a few pedestrians out in the process, all this because she was just trying to get even.

One of the most common options people tell me that they do is to speed up, well we all know that this does not work because the tailgater, more often that not will simply keep up with you. If they are an aggressive tailgater it can just anger them, if it is a habitual tailgater, they will just follow you. But in both instances the risk is going up, the faster you both go the higher the risk is going to go. It is common to feel like speeding up to get away from the risk, but it seldom works.

By far the best option will be to keep calm and carry on, but you might also have to slow down a bit, not to antagonise the following driver, but to create more time and space in front of you, so that you don’t‘have’ to do the one thing you really might ‘want’ to do, that is to simply slam on.

Another way to look at it is to imagine you are towing a trailer or caravan, anyone who has had experience in this will know that when you are towing you simply have to brake earlier and smoother, you also have to plan earlier to accommodate the trailer, and you can use the same strategy when being tailgated.

A lot of people who do tailgate do it habitually, they don’t actually want you to go faster or to get out of the way, they are in fact in their comfort zone driving this close to you, they have formed this habit because they have managed to get away with it for so long they have become unaware of the dangers or consequences, the have simply never ran into the back of anyone, yet!
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