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Causes Of Tailgating

Victim types

Some drivers almost ask to be tailgated.They unnecessarily slow car holding up a queue on an A road.The outside lanehog on a motorway who fails to move over despite faster traffic behindand clear lanes to his left.These behaviours do not excuse the tailgater.They are poor driving  and tend to impede others,tensions rise and tailgating results.If you frquently  suffer from tailgaters it might be wise to carefully consider if any of your own practices are tending to create frustration and delay for other drivers.The advanced driver always keeps out of the way of other vehicles whenever practical.

Ignorant - The ignorant tailgater is unaware of the danger he is causing and fails to properly understand the need for safe gaps between vehicles.He might be driving on "auto pilot" and follow through lane changes and variations.He is sometimes difficult to dislodge because he isnt thinking about whats going on around him.

Aggressive - The aggressive tailgater  is using his  is using his vehicle to intimidate.He is always dangerous but if he is specifically directing  his aggression at you personally he might be a very serious danger indeed.You might even become a "road rage" statistic.

Impatient - The impatient tailgater simply wants to get ahead of you.If you move out of the way he'll be gone .It is possible that he has a genuine emergency need. If you fail to allow the impatient tailgater to make progress he may become aggressive.This is obviously best avoided.

Momentary - The momentary tailgater is usually a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) trying to preserve hard won speed.As traffic ahead slows the HGV behind  maintains speed as long as possible in the hope that the reductionin speed is short lived.I sympathise with the idea of preserving speed especially not passing backneedless short term speed variations to traffic behind.However the HGV might be allowinghis safe gap to be erodedat the time when he needs it most.When traffic speeds are restored the momentary tailgater will return to a safe following position.

Deliberate - The deliberate tailgater may be  an advanced driver occupying the so called "overtaking position".Most advanced driving tuition,including the police drivers manual "Roadcraft" recommends a transiet close following position in preparation for overtaking.Roadcraft neglects to define the "overtaking position"(I suspect because the instructors frequently recommend a position closer than can properly be justified in print).Police drivers with a life and death need to overtake might properly  on occasion acept slightly elevated risks on the road in order to reduce the risk to the victim of a crime they are attending.

But What if your the victim of a tailgater?

Banish all thoughts of right and wrong,So what if hes wrong? So what if hes putting you at risk.?Do you think you can trust him to do the right thing ? Do not get angry.Concentrate instead  on the safety of you,your passengers and your vehicle.Youre going to do whatever you can to:

What not to do.

  • Do not try to teach him a lesson.
  • Do not  increase the stress of the situation.
  • Do not flash your brake lights.
  • Do not brake.
  • Do not use the tactic of gradually slowing and accelerating to annoy him into leaving a larger gap.
  • Do not try to slow him down.
  • Do not make it difficult for him to overtake.
  • Do not drive erratically in the belief that doing so might persuade him to leave a larger gap.

Choose your own rearguard.

The first important idea is that you choose the guy behind to follow you.Advanced driving teaches us that we are in control of all aspects of the traffic and the spaces around us.Sometimes we might be driving along and our problem tailgater simply catches up.In other situations we have chosen to take a position in front of the tailgater without noticing he's not leaving good gaps.The first trick is to only take a position in front of vehichles leaving good gaps.Never overtake or change lane into small gap.If you overtake or change lane into proper sized gaps you've already noticed that the new vehicle behind is leaving proper gaps and probably leave proper gaps behind you.This simple strategy will ensure that the tailgaters are behind other vehicles most of the time.

Change Lane to the left to let him past.

If you are being tailgated on a motorway,change lane to the left to let him pass as soon as possible.You might add a couple of seconds to your journey,but who cares? You might even be able to join the original lane behind the tailgater,and allow his aggressive tactics to clear a path that you can use to get there more quickly.If you do this bear in mind that you'll need to leave an extra gap to compensate for the gap he isnt leaving.But see how quickly and easily we got rid of him.?

Slow down to encourage the tailgater to overtake.

You do not need a twerp on your back bumper.You need a nuce safe space all round your vehicle.On an A road if theres a straight  with no oncoming traffic simply slow and indicate left.Consider a hand signal.He'll get the message and overtake.If he doesnt and its still clear continue to slow gently until he does get the message.Keep an eye on the traffic behind him.If its night in these circumstances be sure to use your main beam headlights so he can see the road ahead of you for his passing manoeuvre.

Overtake to get away.

On an A road,if a ailgater catches up to you  in a stream of traffic you might choose to overtake to get away.I frequently do.Tailgaters dont usually find it very easy to overtake and he might well get stuck behind the vehicle you overtook.If he does overtake you might overtake again,but beware of allowing this to become a pattern.The objective is to ensure  a safe space all round your car.If a strategy isnt working,then abandon it and do something else.

Accelerate to get away.

On a motor way(especially) you might find someone tailgates you while you are over taking a stream in lane 1 or lane 2.The cars in the left(all driving too close as usual) prevent you from moving left so you accelerate to increase the gap behind.This works brilliantly if your vehicle is more powerful. than the tailgaters vehicle.Do not get carried away and accelerate to a speed which isnt safe.Accelerating to get away seems to be a temporary solution,because  he will probably catch up again.Be ready  to pull left and allow him to pass easily if he does.

Leave a double gap in front and drive for him.

Traffic is dense.you cant stop,pull left or turn off  for a while (no lay bys,junctions etc.)In this case double the gap in front and "drive for him" .You were originally leaving a safe two second gap.While the tailgater is stuck behind you leave a four second gap.Now if something goes wrong in front you can brake very gently for two seconds to warn the twerp behind of danger.You "pass back" your spare two seconds to the tailgater.Two vehicles with a four second gap in frint is almost as good as two vehicles who both have  two seconds gap.

Stop,turn off or go around a roundabout.

If all the above has failed to dislodge a persistant tailgater you must stop or turn off at the next opportunity.Another option is to go around a roundabout a whole extre turn.It might cost you a few seconds.It might save a big repair bill if the tailgater wasnt insured or didnt stop after running into the back of you.It might even save your neck.