Tailgating is the practice of driving very close to the car in front. This is high-risk behaviour because in the event of an emergency, there is not enough time to slow down.
It’s not surprising to find out that tailgating causes most rear-end collisions.
The rule of thumb is to keep two seconds between you and the vehicle in front – four seconds in the rain.
At best, people who tailgate often have a great belief in their own ability to drive at speed and handle emergencies. At worst, it’s a form of road rage chosen to intimidate the driver in front.
Most people – 80% - report being tailgated although only 3 out of 10 state they have ever done it. Nine out of ten motorists admit to flashing their lights at someone in front to get them to move aside.
The majority, over 25% of all driver deaths, are young men aged 16-25. Research shows they have what is called a “favourable attitude towards speed violations.”
In other words, they are more likely to “interpret” the rules of the road to suit themselves.
While people tend to regard their own driving as being better than it really is, the fact of the matter is, you are likely to be tailgated at some point on the road. It’s actually unpleasant, as it threatens your safety.
When you see a vehicle looming menacingly in the mirror, it’s important first of all to remain calm. Take a couple of deep breaths and take control of the situation. Unfortunately, you have encountered a fool, so don’t enter a battle of wills that neither of you can win.
Your priority is to remain safe, not to prove a point about who is right and who is wrong. The best thing to do is to move over on the road if it is safe for you to do so and let them by.
On narrow roads, when you don’t have an opportunity, don’t try to outrun the idiot behind. Rather, maintain a constant speed so they can predict the best time to overtake and leave you alone. If you drive at or below the speed limit, that will indicate that you are not going to contest the road.
Communication is difficult in this situation, as hand gestures may be read as offensive. If you feel really pushed, tapping your brake lights and using your flashing indicators may help but should not be relied upon. It may also come across as being defiant, further agitating the fool behind the wheel in your exhaust pipe.
You may want to break off the conversation with your passengers and ask them to remain quiet while you handle the situation.
The best revenge on dangerous road users is to remain safe. Don’t get into it with them because obviously, they are ignorant drivers.