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Why drivers tailgate


This article originally appeared in Volume 4, Number 4 of Driver /Education, in December 1994.

There are many opinions on why drivers tailgate. But there doesn't seem to be much in the line of hard research that would cast some light on this particular kind of driving behaviour.

Several experts queried in preparation for this article admitted that, while they know of research dealing with tailgating behaviour in general, they could not bring to mind any specific research into why individual drivers do it. Even GM Senior Researcher Leonard Evans, author of Traffic Safety and the Driver , a book that has been referred to as the bible of traffic safety research, seems to have little more than opinion to offer on the topic of why drivers adopt a tactic in traffic that is not only dangerous, but also has several tactical disadvantages.

"Why do drivers choose to follow so closely? It seems to me that it becomes largely a driving habit, rather than a reasoned conscious behaviour," Evans writes. "Drivers appear to do many things for their own benefit rather than for any utility benefit." He goes on to suggest that, in some cases, it may be done as criminal behaviour that's indulged in for its own sake.

Evans also suggests that the lack of speed difference between vehicles allows drivers to feel safe. This, and the fact that crashes are rare events and that drivers can get away with tailgating, makes drivers complacent about the danger. "They have learned from repeated experience that it is safe to do so, in the sense that they have been doing it for years without adverse consequences," he writes.

Challenge for educators

If these views hold true, driver educators have an almost impossible challenge in dealing with the problem. The three- to four-second rule is taught as a rule of thumb for minimum safe following distance.

But selling this driving technique on the basis of safety may be difficult if penalties for tailgating (in the form of accidents) are rare and drivers feel no sense of danger.

On the other hand, more utilitarian penalties for tailgating are quite common. Tailgaters get blocked in more often because they are unable to anticipate problems ahead and select the best lane.

"They feel more stress because they can't use their vision properly and do long-range traffic planning," says driver training consultant David Baker. "Drivers are often more concentrated on defending the indefensible, the space between them and the car in front, rather than on the cooperative aspect of driving in traffic," says Baker. "When they're shown how, they can see and feel the benefits of staying back and having more control. They feel more confident about their control over the situation."

However, it might be a lot easier to find ways to sell these benefits if a great deal more were known about why tailgaters tailgate.End of Article

Further comments to this article have been disabled.


All Comments (79)

Showing 1 - 79 comments

nufenough,

I hate tailgaters. I have many times been tempted to pull back hard on the emergency brake, which will not apply the brake lights, and let them hit me. I really don't care anymore, go ahead and slam into me, serves them right...At this stage in life I really don't care and if I survive, I will be the one to get that big settlement.

Ignorem,

For over 30 years I have been totally ignoring tailgaters. My mirrors are turned so I can just see any emergency lights, but so I don't give the 'gaters a chance to think their glares or vehicle lights will cause me to react. I love to see them roar around and get stuck at the lights and have me roll up and pass them! Never move faster for these folks, they are not your friends and your only reward is them tailgating no matter what speed. Ignore them and just grin at their bullying attempts tp lord over you on the road

bernie,

Tailgating can be dangerous.
1. tailgaters pressure their victims to go beyond the speed limit. Speeding is the 3rd leading cause of car crashes.
2. When tailgaters are conscious of their habit, they are likely to eventually merge in front of their victims and aggressively press their brakes, in hopes of frightening their victim. This action may very much lead into a multiple car collision. I personally experienced this before. A tailgater was unhappy that I did not go beyond the speed limit, so he merged in front of me, pressing his brakes repeatedly. I tried to avoid him by merging into the next lane, but he speed up so can get ahead of me again, to press his brakes again. I tried to merge to the other next lane, but he speed up so he could block that lane , almost hitting me on the side. I almost lost control of the wheel, trying to not hit the bully and other cars. There was no place to go. But, he finally exited the freeway, ending his escapade by giving me the middle finger. Now that was definitely criminal. I would say, under the circumstances, I was lucky that I did not crash into a car or something. We need justice to stop tailgaters, for real.

Anomally,

Having lived in ten states and driven extensively all over the US I still cannot figure out what are the factors that contribute to every Houston driver tailgating the vehicle in front of them by often half-a-car length distance! As a transplanted New Yorker now living in the Houston metro area I am still shocked as to why there are no public service announcements to stop this dangerous craze in this area?

Katherine,

I strongly dislike tailgaters. If I am in the right hand lane, going the speed limit, I slow down since putting on the brake lights is not advised. Some pass, others try real hard to get in my backseat.
I believe most of them do this to try to force you to go fast...they won't stand out and risk a ticket. Others are going to point A and they want you to go faster since they will be turning off shortly.
On the roads where there are traffic lights it more common then not that the ones that pass meet you at those lights. They have done nothing more then put themselves and other drivers at risk.
In a heavy rainstorm they don't seem to understand that tailgating is not a smart move, they drive at speeds that are risky. I not only slow down, but put on my flashers. If it is really bad I actually pull off to the side until condtions are safer.
I know this is a long post, but I really,really have a strong dislike of tailgaters.

James M. Smith,

Tailgating is, to some extent at least, a psychological need to "close the gap." Even stopped at a light, I've had drivers pulled up almost touching my bumper lean out their window and say "close it up."

danny i,

I wish they would stop this tailgating foolishness i am a professional driver and need my license its my bread and butter i am a city bus operator i guess connecticut drivers love to get into car accidents they also need to stop speeding so what do you do drive like these a wholes and risk a cop pulling u over

hitler,

tailgaters should be placed in a concentratioin camp and worked until they are not fit to drive cars.

jason,

actually now that i have vented i wanted to share some more info about tailgating. I believe tailgating(attitude behind wheel)is a form of your mental attitude behind the wheel.If someone is having a bad day or argued with their wife and jumped into the car. Did not eat a proper breakfast feels lethargic is distracted while driving . Left late to work and is in a rush? Also the quality of that persons life are they getting enough sleep to pay for their brand new car and their 55 inch flatscreen with surrounds sound plus their new vette( dont forget the mortgage). Some people have no self esteem because they have no job they drive a car that is desperately in need of maintenance. They have poor social skills they have no social life. I believe there are alot of contributing factors to tailgating( road rage and what to do about it). The best defense is a good offense eg. a fast car seriously I know most people dont consider this but its always fun to get them mad because they just got blown out of the water.

jason,

tailgating is a compulsive addictive personality disorder. In other words I dont like tailgaters. The only time I tailgate is when somebody cuts me off but very seldom even then. I think some do it because like the article alludes too,it's sometimes advantageous for the tailgater. People will get out of the way and the driver feels a sense of empowerment and has tunnel vision. Or to Intimidate usually in a big truck type vehicle or sometimes women drivers who may feel they can get away with being aggressive drivers.

UltraFrosty,

Don't get me started on these stupid, plutonium-swilling morons who decide to get behind the wheel and try to get from Point A to Point B in 30 seconds, and if there's anyone in their way, GOD HELP THEM!! Fer cryin' out loud! It's bad enough that it happens on the interstate / expressway on a regular basis here in Seattle, but in a parking garage?

Let's see... I'm gonna give you all a little What Would You Do scenario and watch the fur fly.
Let's say you're in a crowded parking garage that has plenty of room for two cars, each going their own way, but you have sharp turns and cannot see small cars pulling out of their spaces.

Do you:
A. Drive real carefully at around 10-15mph and pay attention to pedestrians / cars, or...
B. Drive 50mph and whip around tight corners like your car's made of rubber?

The correct answer is A. If you answered B, you're a bleedin' idiot. Get off the road, douchebag.

Now, since I drive carefully and intelligently in a crowded parking garage, I invariably have some knuckle-dragging jerk riding my bumper and beating on his horn who absolutely cannot be bothered to drive like a responsible adult.

If you are one of those pricks who like to tailgate people and drive like a jackass in a parking garage, do us considerate and responsible drivers a favor and wrap your piece of crap around a telephone pole. At least you'd be off our roads and out of our parking lots!

Sheri,

Drafting in NASCAR: very common.

Drafting anywhere else beside a race track: incompetence.

Louis,

I believe tailgaters save fuel by driving really closely to the vehicles in front of them; it reduces wind resistance. Studies have shown that by tailgating a sedan right behind a large truck while leaving a space of about 5-10 inches between, the car can save more than 30% of the fuel. But the truck has to be really large to block airflow onto the car.

Flyer,

On the one hand, I think it's right to let these idiots pass so they're out of your hair. If they cause an 'accident', at least you won't be involved. But letting them go potentially teaches them that tailgating is perfectly OK and gives them licence to bully the next driver (until said crash occurs). I'd rather see an official camera system developed whereby they can be recorded on video and reported. The police can then write them a nice letter telling them that they owe some money for their behaviour and will lose their licence if it happens again :) That way, you don't have to resort to anything at all and can rest assured that the police will handle it after the event.

Here is a link that describes the phenomenon at length and gives effective strategies for dealing with it:
http://www.safespeed.org.uk/tailgate.html

It's a UK site, so if you drive on the right in your country then reverse all the lefts and rights.

Tex,

If I am going the speed limit and someone is tailgating it not only against the law but most importantly places someones life at risk. Because it is potentially deadly I usually pull to the side and let them pass. After they pass me I immediately get back on the road behind them. Long story short I'm sure it would be rewarding to see the looks on their faces when they return to their car with two flat tires or even a broken windshield. It can work both ways but tailgater always end up paying big bucks in the end.

alan,

it,s a simple answer why people tailgate they see the road as a playground and as with all playgrounds you get bullys they have a beef with the world and a very bad mental state its just an extension of their personal problems---their one goal in doing this is to get attention so never react to them--speeding up wont get rid of them as they will continue to tailgate at high speed--slowing down has the same effect--do not make any kind of gesture as you are then the loser--if they pass do not make eye contact as you give them the benefit of your awareness to their actions-do nothing say nothing and continue driving at the same speed the way i see it ----its not really a driving situation but more of a mind game---remember these type of people are pissed off as soon as the wake up so its not personal its just the bubble they live in---HAPPY MOTORING

Opal,

this tail gating is ridicolous, we had a school program about driving recently and they had vidoes of crashes(differnt to accident, accidents cannon be avoided) and you see some people just seem so stupid on the road.

James leatham,

I have driven for over 50 years,and have found todays drivers the worst I have ever seen on the Rd...They are basically WIMPS in over sized useless trucks,and love bullying anything in front of them ,by tailgating anything in front of themselves providing it is a smaller,older vehicle...They are just plain RUDE,and assume the Rd was built just for them,and anything that gets in their way should pull over and let them pass...They make it almost impossible to obey speed limits as they will dog you to make you go beyond the speed limits...TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT COULD EVENTUALLY SOLVE THIS PROBLEM!
James L Leatham

raine1200,

The answer is simple they are simpletons :)

Prue Adamson,

I was struck by a tailgater he told the police he was trying to pass me He was overtly tailgating

Sean,

The people that seem to tailgate are the tough guys from high school. Now they're in their 40's and they drive a HUGE truck with HUGE wheels and they think they own the road. When they tailgate, you can damn near see the bottom of their truck but it's funny because when they step out it's a short man standing at about five-five with a huge beer belly. And he's working in construction because he was dumb enough to pick on other kids in high school and he suffered for it. And one of his victims in now his boss and his boss picks on him.

Cindy,

I attended a course on personality types. -- Most of the time people that tailgate live in the Now. They don't think ahead to the What-if scenarios. (applies to everything in life; not just driving)

hit yesterday,

I was hit by a tailgater yesterday. (after turning right there is a short block and then we loose the right lane) Like most people do; I change lanes ahead of time. She blamed me for the accident because I was changing lanes when she was picking up speed to stay in the right lane to the end.

What she was doing prior to the accident really upset (annoyed) me that she had the nerve to blame me. She tailgated me for 3 miles. Most of the route had two lanes. Several times I changed lanes to let her by. There was plenty of room to go by, but she kept changing lanes too. (I have no idea what I did to cause it)

A better driver,

To Driver,
Perhaps if you read the previous comments you would know that tailgating isn't always the result of someone driving slowly in the left lane. Many people tailgate in the right lane, in residential areas, and sometimes in school zones. And I noticed that speed is often NOT the issue. Whether someone was doing the speed limit or 20mph OVER, people tailgate. What it winds down to is that people are impatient, uneducated, distracted and thoughtless.

Driver,

Have any of you guys ever thought about why tailgaters are tailing you? Think about it and do something about it. He/she is most likely tailing you for a reason. If he/she is actively tailing, passively let him by. Be open minded and stop always thinking about yourself and have some road knowledge and courtesy. SLOWER TRAFFIC SHOULD STAY ON THE RIGHT. ONLY PASS ON THE LEFT. Ever heard that law?

George Brooks,

Please read my comments at http://thepontificator.com/blog-library

Mr. commonsense,

The comments on here have hit the nail on the head. There are sooo many problems with peoples minds behind the wheel. At first I thought that the tailgater just "really loved their jobs". What I have found after an experiment, People dont like to be on camera. Put a digital camera on the dash that takes real time video. When they get really close and tailgate, they can see the LCD screen of the car in front of you and they want NO part of the Video recording or being the cause of accident. Plus, If they cause the accident you got it all on video. I think cars should have an onboard recorder that loop records so if the car was hit it would tell the insurance companies who was at fault. Seems like very few people really use the rules of the road anymore. NO ONE CARES>>>>>

drivers staff,

We have posted a new tailgating article this week which you should find interesting - http://www.drivers.com/article/1126/ - comments on the effectiveness of the illustrations would be welcome!

no mind,

There is a clip from the movie lost highway (taigater) that should be shown in drivers ed. Thats what I would like them all to feal, the kick in the end is pricless! Things I have done. Moving my mirrors so not to be able to see them, Going from 55 to 100+ in short order them back to 55, brake tap, pulling over and let them go . Police should do their job. This tailgating is out of control. Wonder why people are not buying new cars? cause the tiagaters make driving anything suck!

Dan,

re Richard, vikki below,

I like the clustering explanation as an account for some tailgating. Also i've seen people do it behind tucks adn buses.
maybe it does have something to do with inate social instincts.

However, it would be fscinating to know how this relates to their brain. Is there something missing?

After all, there are so many advantages of staying back .

Richard,

When I used to ride the Stanford local train from Connecticut to New York City, I noticed that people would come up to the platform, while waiting for the train, and would stand in clusters (every day) even though they appeared not to know each other. I believe that peoples mores required them to stand in cluster. The same applies to their subconscious or conscious compulsion to tailgate.

Vikki,

I drive a bus and I noticed that cars will tailgate. They are so close to the bus all I can see are their mirrors or the headlights. This is dangerous for the drivers. They are clueless!!

Good driver,

Let them pass then shoot at them! It works.there so scared they won't stop to confront you.

Sheri,

I find it very hard to believe that some people simply does not know that they're tailgating. I see drivers leave about 10 feet between vehicles. And yes, even cops tailgate. About six months ago, I was doing < 40mph in a 35 mph zone and stayed in the right lane; this cop tailgated me for about 2 miles. I strongly agree that education is a major reason, but it's not the only factor. People are impatient. Many believe the law does not apply to them. Traffic is common complaint in my town's opinion section of the newspaper. One person had replied to a comment stating, "if there are no law enforcement around, who are you to stop me?" People will find ways to make things convenient for themselves if they believe they are not going to get caught. As for that cop, he was most likely looking for a reason to pull me over; he eventually gave up and made a u-turn. No lights, no sirens.

Walter H,

Don't forget, some people don't KNOW they're tailgating. I've seen truckers do it, driving instructors, even cops. It's an education thing, but don't try the education at highway speeds. Never know what might happen!!

burt.,

The safe and legal thing to do is to squirt water at them. In California, it is perfectly legal to discharge water (and only water) onto the roadway. A decent hobbyist can devise a pump (as in windshield washer) and reservoir that, with testing and adjustment, shoot water backwards from your car. If you actually devise a strong enough pump to shoot it from the area surrounding your windshield, the offenders won't get mad. If you put it on the rear of your car and put something like Dad's Paint Remover in the reservoir, they may get mad enough to find you, later, when they find their paint job blistering. I don't recommend that one but it is fun to think about. :)

Sheri,

I moved to Arizona in 1999, my drivers license does not expire until 2046. I agree with sierra, everyone needs to have a 'refresher' course every so often. I drive 5mph OVER the limit and stay to the right. People drive on my ass EVERYDAY (without fail). Most of the time these idiots are following so closely, I am only able to see their windshield. One thing I have noticed is that often, the tailgaters are driving these enormous trucks and SUVs. I drive a small 2-door coupe, it is not very comforting to look in my rear-view mirror and find nothing but someones front grill. Don't these people know that when they tailgate, they are putting those peoples' lives in danger? Do they even care, or is getting to their destination 5 minutes sooner much more important?
I recently came across a quote that really relates to this subject:
"Drive carefully. Cars aren't the only things that can be recalled by their maker."

IH 35 Bob,

Thought I would take a little "BRAKE" from the anger management book I"m reading today to google the cause of my 40 yrs of anger about tailgating. Just wanted see if there are any slants to my tailgating subject that I have not considered. MY PROBLEM AND THE KEY WORD HERE IS "MY PROBLEM" , IS THAT IT FEELS LIKE A "PERSONAL ATTACK" TO ME!!!

We live in a green Texas oasis called San Marcos. Still half our population are Tx. State students (young and often prone to tailgate). IH 35 runs almost through the center of town (the busyiest, tailgatingist North/South Hwy in the US).

I might even call myself an aggresssive driver. Still I never tailgate, clip or otherwise violate the space of even the most cluless near me. I drive about 7 mph above the limit in town and on the hwy but have been speeding up, (if possible), far beyond this to get out of the gun sights of tailgaters. I turn on my turn signal and get out of the attack zone of tailgaters as quickly as possible. I used to brake in anger when I was younger. Both actions have a strong element of self richousness to it. (They know now just how angry "THEY MADE ME"!!!!!!)

Most importantly both actions are EXTREMELY dangerous to the other incent men, women & CHILDREN on the road (especially brakeing which approaches insanity)!

I/WE MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HOW "WE CHOOSE" TO REACT WITH "OUR EMOTIONS" WHICH BELONG TO US AND "US ALONE"!!!

"Live long and prosper" or live longer and try harder to forgive them?!

Iraj Behbehani,

As a driving instructor and educator, I completely agree with the content of the above article, and that is why I have been working on this problem for many years and finally patented my idea which can solve many of the above problems.

For more information, please go to my web-site "www.adwas.net"

sierra,

Our culture is based on competition.
tailgaters want to get ahead of who ever
in front of them.

add adrenaline, from the power of the car,and it just spirals.

add big egos and stupid brains and it is a dangerous combintation.

really good luck getting thru to them.
they should not have drivers' licenses at all.

one thing we can do for sure is cover ourselves and those around us.
always have an 'out' for yourself. still sometimes you have no out, and they are putting your life directly in danger, and it really makes me angry.

cops and chps NEED TO DO MORE ABOUT THIS, IT IS THEIR JOB. tailgating is a MAJOR cause of accidents.

get real. this is a very hot topic for me. i drive as little as possible. it is highly overrated.

it's rediculous who 'gets' to have cars and drive and also clueless people having children.

oh well such is life. it seems.

sierra,

dhmill

couldn't agree with you more.
cops don't do anything about it.
in fact they also tailgate like most
others.
really pisses me off.

oh and another thing
adrenaline is going thru everyones veins cuz we have the horse power of the car, so it is impossible to change others aggressive behavior.

some people most i think have a concious or unconcious suicide wish, and they will take others down. i mean this.

i hope i am done for now. this is a Hot Topic for me. happens the minute i get on the road. i don't tolerate it.
i go to the chp and talk with them etc.

whatever. gotta cover ourselves first.

people should have to pass a test yearly.
and i should be the one giving out drivers' licences.

sierra,

PS I ALSO CALL 911 AND REPORT.

When you call 911 from your cell, in CA i know it goes to chp. so several x i say the license # first off, hello duh again, and almost always the controlling person on the other end says "mam, answer my questions." so one time i answered her questions 1st, then when she was done and the moron was like 1 mile ahead of me cuz they saw me call it in, she says "did you get the licence #" !!!!! yeah i wrote it down after looking in my purse for pen and paper while driving.

i have actually been thru this more than once.

but still now i immediately read the # to them, some of them 'get' what is going on, cuz i actually say i am reporting a tailgater 5 ft off my bumper".

it's amazing when they get it. so first i give them the plate #, hope they are listening, and then tell them where we are. no brainer you'd think. usually end up more frustrated than before i called.

but yes i DO call them in.

sierra,

don, i wish i had faith in people like you do, seeing the world thru rose colored glasses. 'quite' often it is some you are doing wrong'. NOT even close dude.

it is 99.99% the idiot doing it.
and oh excuse me for braking. damn didn't see that animal run in front of my car.

listen up people, i once asked a CHP officer, why don't you ticket tailgaters, and i swear his response was, "do you really want to know?" yes i said, "too much paperwork."

It is Against The Law, AND the Law of Common Sense to tailgate. I agree we can't get thru to their lack of intelligence.

We have to do what we have to do to protect oursevles and others around us.

Especially 'mature' drivers. They OUGHT to know better, 'by now.' Teenagers well yeah I give them a break in my mind cuz they are young and in a hurry, here is my point.

TAILGATERS NEED TO BE TICKETED.

duh.

Sierra
I am passionate about this.

Tailgating is Seriously Dangerous and Rude and everything else.

Nina,

I have to do a project for my driver's ed. class about tailgating, and laws like the two second rule and car length rule. But all the websites I've found that look like they could have that info are impossible to naveigate! Does anyone know of any good sites I could visit that have that information?

don,

New York, i like the first part of your comment but i have serious misgivings about the second part.

I agree, tailgating IS irresponsible. Problem is, tailgating means different things to different people. It's really dumb and it would be extremely difficult to find a rational reason or advantage to it.

But don't give people too much credit for intelligence. I've seen drivers tailgate when there's only two cars on the road and an alternative lane availble.

Sometimes I'm glad there's people like you out there to teach these dumbells a lesson. On the other hand, the brake light thing is very aggressive (even more aggressive than tailgating, which many drivers don't realize they're doing).

Try to understand the lack of intelligence and don't feel obliged to enforce your ethics. Not worth the stress.

and by the way, if you are tailgated very often there's possibly something wrong with YOUR driving.

New York,

I am going to be doing a speech in my class about tailgating. I think it is one of the most irresponsible decisions a person can make while driving. Tailgating causes unnecessary stress on the other person, and for what? I also will talk about a couple of times I have pumped my brakes to tell the person to stop, and when we got to red light they decided it would be in their best interest to come to my car, and fight me. Bad call.. I am 2-0 on that. Two a**holes got there butt beat up for that.
I not saying that fighting is right but people have to really think about what they are doing! I also love when people act if they are going to do something, and it is a 5 foot lady maybe weighing in at 100 lbs. Stop! My girlfriend already has one won fight for some chick doing that.
People might think I am bringing it to a new level but people have to really think what they are doing, and to who. If your going to act like billy bad a** honking your horn, flashing your lights, and flicking me off. You better be ready to fight because I will be!!

BobEasy,

And I know slow drivers in the left lane are idiots and all, but this in no way gives you the right to tailgate them and try to scare them into going faster. Just back off and wait for a safe opening to pass them on the right if they don't move. Tailgating is never the right thing to do, no matter how slow some idiot is driving in the left lane.

BobEasy,

What makes me mad about tailgaters is when they tailgate you while you are passing. If you are in the passing lane and actively passing another vehicle in a timely manner, why do they need to tailgate you? I tend to stick near the speed limit, but when I go to pass, I usually speed up a little bit to try to pass quickly, then return to the right lane. Even when I do this, if I'm passing a truck or something (which takes longer than passing a car), I will still get some idiot tailgating me and yelling, flashing their lights, etc even though I sped up a little bit to try to get out of their way. What more do they really want me to do? It makes me mad. Back off, give people time to complete their passing, then you can go on your merry way.

Rozzie,

I sometimes just put my lights on for a second, the red rear light then comes on - they think you are braking - but you are not!!

Tailgaters really test my patience, and there are so many about.

john,

or just buy a "tailgate revenger" kit!

It'll be sure to make those tailgaters back off your bumper!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAx7UO9Sajk

www.Anti-Tailgate.com

David,

The more I drive (and I have been for almost 40 years) the more I hate it - the traffic and night driving, but especially the tailgaters. I thought I was in the minority as far as this pet peeves go, but I see from the posts here that I am not. I agree that tailgating is a much more serious issue than speeding, but it's hard to enforce this. I think unmarked police cars would be the best idea. The cops could make tons of money handing out summonses for tailgating!

I am tempted to do brake-checks, but many have warned against the possibility of pissing off other drivers and being cut off or harassed afterwards. I heed this kind of advice as it makes sense. I live in New York City (Brooklyn, to make matters worse - ever hear of the Belt Pkwy?!!) - which I've heard is 2nd on the list in the U.S. for road rage and tailgating.

I am a very strong believer in individual rights, but there is one I am willing to give up immediately: I would applaud it if someone could design a foolproof computerized sensing system that would slow a car down automatically when it tailgates another car - of course this would take into account the speed of the car. It would have to be a system that could not be defeated by anyone under any circumstances and would be checked for accuracy during annual inspections.

Can you imagine how many accidents this would avoid?

Erin,

I like to just slam on the brakes, Some get that I'm pissed with their dominating attitude, Others seem so determined to have their way, Though slaming on the brakes Is not the only way of stopping them, I have found a site www.textthemIn.com where I can text
message the plate number and the vehicle description It's free and those that run this service will alert the athorities to what Is happening and law enforcement will go after them.

Auntzue,

When someone tailgates me, I look at them in the rearview mirror and smile and wave excitedly,as if I know them. If I have a passender with me, sometimes the passenger will turn around and wave an smile. This often works to get them to back off. Otherwise, as long as I am traveling at or above the posted speed, screw them - they can go around if they're that eager.

Angela,

I moved to Houston, TX from Montgomery, AL and never in my life seen so many taigaters. In fact when I moved to Houston there were kids that were hit by cars lying on the grass which really concerned me. I hate tailgaters but what I do that seems to work is pump my brakes several times and they seem to pay attention despite these stupid people talking on their cell phones.

alice,

I like Larry's remedy. The "flame throwing tail pipe", but even more so, he has read my mind when he suggests a lighted sign that says "Back Off" that can be switched on when needed. I've been saying that for years now. Hey, Larry, let's get together and invent one.:)lol

Matt,

I have "brake checked" several people within the past several years. My truck is a piece of junk, and I just love to see their headlights, hood and everything else just get smashed!

Josh,

Tailgaters are impatient, this is true. But how much faster are they going to get there by being five feet away, as opposed to 20-30? They aren't actually saving AHY time!

The worst is the people with NO regard for the posted speed limit who will tailgate me going 55 in a 45 because THEY feel that if they aren't going 65 NPH everywhere, then they aren't going at all.

Larry,

I knew a Sargent in the USAF who had a restored 1950s car. He HAD trouble with tailgaters until he installed a sparkplug in the tailpipe.

The car had leaky rings so a bit of oil would mist out the pipe. Flipping a switch on the dash would send ignition current to that plug which ignited the oil - spewing a large flame out the rear.

Said he never did it when they were TOO close but after one shot they never tailgated him again.

All I'm looking for is a lighted sign to place in the rear window - something like 'Back-off or Pass!' I can switch on when needed.

I've tried tapping the brake pedal and the hazard flashers like they told us in the Defensive Drivers course but there's always one idiot who doesn't understand (or is driving asleep) who continues to stick to me like glue.

THEN there's the State Troopers who risk everybody's lives by rushing up and darting in behind you and then getting SO close all you can see is their grill (of their SUVs).

Had one pull me over when I tried to warn yet another tailgater to back off. Turned out THAT was the trooper!

Apparently he saw me flashing the brake lights and the hazard lights (with a Mercedes less than 10ft behind @ 55mph - the limit) and didn't understand I simply wanted the Mercedes driver to back off (or pass).

SO, seeing as even the cops 'don't get it' - isn't it time for a lighted sign as an aid to traffic safety? Saw built-into a minivan's rear window but couldn't learn which manufacturer supplied it.

dhmil,

I don't pretend to hit the brakes when threatened by a tailgater; I DO hit the brakes and HARD. I see it as self-defense. A tailgater is threatening my life in the same way if they held a loaded gun to my head. I will defend myself in the latter, so I do so in the former. If they are arrogant to tailgate and threaten the life of my passengers and myself, then they better prepared: I will hit my brakes HARD. And where are the police: They'll stop someone for going 10 MPH over the speed limit but otherwise driving safely, yet will never, ever pull a tailgater over. Tailgating is far more dangerous at any speed, than going a few MPH over the speed limit but drving in control, and safely.

MN Noob,

I frickin' hate Minnesota drivers. These mooks, in their behemoth RUVs, will tailgate in the far right lane, even if you speed up. They refuse opportunities to pass on your left. They speed up when you're trying to merge.

I assume that this is because I live close to Michelle Bachmann's district - and that the dezinens are as bat-shit crazy as she is.

Oh..for a rocket launcher!

David,

The one thing that drivers that tailgate do not realize, is that a very hazardous situation has just been created. Furthermore, the left hand lane habit of appraochign the car in front, even if it is travelling at 10-15 miles over the speed limit, will gain nothing for the approaching car if ther is nothing but a long lin eof cars ahead in all lanes. The behavior is habitually crimina, albeit minor, but due top the fact that police radar ahead cannot catch them. so they feel free to travel at great speeds to the next car. Watch such a driver the next time they become the lead car, they do not travel as fast and they become the "hunted." If you are such a driver, shame on you. Chances are, you probably will not have a chance to learn that lesson-an accident will probably kill you at those speeds.

ace1,

There is really no way to avoid tailgaters. I especially hate it at night on two-lane back roads. I drive at the posted limit or a little below at night as you can never tell when one of God's creatures is going to jump out at you. But obviously, people who tailgate don't have the brain-power to realize this.

I don't know what happens to some people when they get behind the wheel of a car. I think they feel it's some kind of weapon or something, and, considering the damage it can do, they're right. Maybe it makes up for some other deficiency in their lives; maybe it's their way of getting even with the rest of the world. Who knows.

It's frustrating and dangerous out there these days and I've been driving for 43 years. I really don't enjoy it any longer. Usually, I just stay steady at a speed I'm comfortable with given the driving conditions and eventually they'll go around. The faster you go, the faster they go. At night, I just turned the rear-view mirror to the side and pay attention to the road ahead.

My main goal when I drive now is to get home in one piece. So, giving in to the frustration means they win - and you don't want that.

gear1,

yeah thats right driver or not. Get it all out of your system!!!!!

I, on the other hand, find driving pretty relaxing. I've almost always got all the space I want and more, and few drivers tailgate me. But so what if they do? If I can't get out of their way I don't worry about them too much except to watch out ahead so I don't have to brake suddenly.

Yup, I control everything around me almost all the time and I don't find driving tense. I just don't have too many problems when I drive.

Just lucky I guess.

A Driver? Or not?,

Warning, wall of text!

Ah yes... tailgating, an all too common and stupid practice. I never understand how these people got their drivers license. Maybe they bribed or slept with the driving test person, who knows. Or they were the "perfect" driver for one day and then decided to just be stupid. In any case, anyone who tailgates intentionally is a moron, and probably has an IQ of about -100. There are many reason people tailgate, most are directed at the dirver in front of them and a few are not. I know the feeling all too well of wanting to take a sledgehammer and beat the heck out of a tailgater or other stupid driver) all too well.

You see, I have the worst luck on the road. Every damn driver out there is out to cause me grief and frustration. It's like they know exactly how to piss me off and they do it just for fun. I actually have a list of names I give to the situations they like to frustrate me over. (Like when I try to read a road sign, the people in front of me brake suddenly and hard for no reason at all, and there really is no reason to. I'm not tailgating, no one cut them off, there is nothing jumping out in front of them, there is no sudden drop in speed limit, there is no road that they had to brake hard otherwise they would pass it, there is absolutely nothing on the road infront of them and absolutely reason for them to brake so hard. I call them the "Look away braker" When you look away, they brake, all the time. I've tested this and it is positive, if I even glance at anything, they brake.)

Sorry for the off-topic there, anyway the best thing you could do is ignore the tailgater. I know it is hard to do that, but giving them your attention is exactly what they want. Causing accidents by "brake checking" or otherwise inciting road rage is exactly what they are looking for, an excuse to kick your ass. (Or shoot you with their gun.) It's weird how people are in such a hurry all the time and yet they have time for a confrontation, how stupid. As for your situation Jolie (if you still read these comments), I have an idea. I don't know if your rearview mirror has this, but some rearview mirrors have a little clip that you can move to move the rearview mirror down and away from your eyes. This also reflects their own headlights back in their face, that will make them back-off or pass. Now if yours doesn't do that, buy a mirror and hang it up under your rearview mirror, and move it up when they do that shit to you again and blind them. If they pass, throw a heavy object into their window and shatter it, and possibly hit them. When they crash, get out and beat the living... oops I'm rambling on about what I would want to do, sorry.

Jess,

Getting tailgated in the right lane, as well as people using the right lane for high speeds, is the worst. Fastest left, slowest right. Not hard to understand. What I usually do is slow down until the moron gets the idea and passes me on the left. I've done this for miles, get slower and slower and some idiots don't get the message that I want them to pass me. Sometimes I'll speed up when they finally go left so they can't get back in the lane ahead of me!

Josh,

That's an awesome Jacob, i'll try it next time somebody tailsgates me (which will be tomorrow)

Jacob,

Do what I do when these losers get behind you. Hit them with a 12 second shot of wiper fluid. It works when going faster than 50 mph. The fluid goes right over the top of your car (wind hits it) and it will land on their windshield. On a sunny day, the bastards will know what's going on. Fuck them.

Jolie,

These types of drivers mixed with high beams is a very dangerous thing. This is why I try not to go out at night unless I absolutely have to. Just tonight on my way home, a minivan caught up with me and followed me all the way home with high beams on!! There was NO TRAFFIC at all. NONE. Would this person just pass? No. They enjoy this behavior because they can get away with it. They are bullies.They obviously don't have any regard for human life. They should have their license suspended. Then again, they'd probably drive around anyway AND without insurance. In my experience, it's always the crappy car drivers that tail gate the nice cars.

steven paul,

turn on your lights for a second or two. or..your turn signal.

Donald,

A way to turn on your brake lights without touching the brake would teach tailgaters a lesson. A simple switch in the brake light circuit is all thats needed.

Or you can turn on your rear fog lamp and dazzle them.

modelman360,

florida drivers are the worst! old people and semis driving slow in the fast lane! don't they teach anymore ,slower traffic to the right??...and these damn pounding stereos! , do cops hand out tickets? yes they do i went to court for my daughter and kids were getting tons of them!..............

Erik,

So what do you do when the cops speed and tailgate you ?
In my state, Pa., Gov. Ed Rendell likes his State Trooper chauffer to cruise at 100mph on the turnpike. He must have been on his way to Pat's Steaks to graze. Sticking the taxpayer with his ethanol subsidies will build up anybody's appetite. Don't believe them when they tell you they can't tear up a ticket, just ask the trooper who pulled him over.

Jeff,

Yeah I would have to agree that no matter where you live, no matter how hard you try to avoid it or what lane you're in people are always going to tailgate. You see these jerks on somebodies bumper in the right lane and then they move into the left lane to get right on somebody elses bumper. The best thing to do is to reduce your speed they're ticking you off so slow down to tick them off. And if they try to take further action against you just get on your cell phone and call 911 tell them the situation, where you're driving, the vehicle info and license plate info and the police will make every effort to pull that person over and give them a traffic warning/citation.

Shawn,

Glenn has it right ... you can't fix stupid. Tailgaters will always be around and keep coming like a cockroach ... more and more everyday as young adults adopt the pattern of their parents, society, etc. Personally, I struggle with "taking the high-road" on this issue everyday. It sucks. Too often, these assholes get away with it. I feel certain that most accidents are caused by tailgaters and impatient drivers. Unfortunately, it seems like the cops are more concerned with catching speeders rather than tailgaters. At this point, I feel I'm in the minority on this subject. Nowadays, I'm starting to see cops getting tailgated themselves and they don't seem too concerned about it either. I guess it's just the norm now. Maybe I should become a highway patrol officer and dedicate my services to busting tailgaters only. I'm tired of being the "nice guy" on this issue. I say screw 'em all ... just once I'd love to see one have a horrific, deadly single-car accident. They have no regard for my life (including my passengers), so why should I have any for theirs.

Glenn,

You just can't fix stupid...and that's just what tailgaters are! I would love to just slam on my brakes and let the asshole crash into me, but that would be stupid. Every society on the planet will ALWAYS have tailgaters. I always drive the posted speed limit (+ or - a few mph), but the tailgaters keep coming, and always will. I don't get too excited about tailgaters anymore because there are so may of them out there. We all pay the price eventually, while our auto insurance rates continue to rise. The best one can do is let the tailgater pass you when it is possible. YOUR SAFETY IS #1., DON'T MESS WITH THE (STUPID) TAILGATER---because the situation may turn out real bad for YOU. SAFETY...SAFETY...SAFETY!!! Call 911 and report the asshole...the cops will do the rest.

Albert,

I want to install holographic projectors that, only when I'm being tailgated, project the image of my car suddenly stopping. It doesn't matter what lane you're in... they tailgate. I actually speed up sometimes to see how fast they're willing to go... they still tailgate... they usually fall back when I'm up to 90 to a 100mph... I've seen 18 wheelers tailgate too! Sometimes I imagine driving a tank and slamming the breaks on the tailgaters. They just need to get into an accident, that's all. Have you ever been the passenger with a person who tailgates...? Scary... I'm get nervous...

Eric,

Peopel are tailgating because the car in front of them (usually in the left lane) is not yielding to the rule "slower traffic keep right" Even if someone is speeding, they are now faster and you become the slower traffic. If you choose not to move , then you must deal with tailgating.

John,

I moved to France last year and am enjoying nearly every aspect of the culture with one huge exception - the all-too-common practice of tailgating. It almost seems permissible here, something I just can't rationalise. From my experience, its almost impossible to drive a short 10km trip without at least one potentially dangerous incident via this (literally) shortsighted behaviour. Incidentally, I typically drive just under or over the limit, always paying attention to lane discipline and trying to read the road - in other words, I try to drive considerately and would never intentinally block another vehicle's progress.

I believe that in many ways tailgating is far more dangerous than speeding, which whilst not-condoning any form of irresponsible driving - tailgating ALWAYS involves a second vehicle, whereas speeding doesn't necessarily involve a third party.

I would welcome any initiative to reduce this seemingly global problem, yet from my experience of driving in the UK, is far more prevelent on mainland Europe.

thomas1,

I for one, do not know or understand how anyone in there right mind can follow the vehicle in front of them so close that all they can see is the vehicle in front of them. What an uncomfortable feeling. I tried it once and did not see any practical reason for it. I have been driving for 25 years. Common sence tells me that if I lay back 2 or 3 car lenths that I can react to emergency situations with out panic. If you are tail gating the vehicle in front of you then all you are doing is waiting for his brakes lights to come on. What fun is that. Driving is a privalage and is also very enjoyable if you can see more than the back of the car you are tailgating. Regarding the above article, my veiw is that people tailgate because people are impataint.


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