What is Tailgating and How Can You Combat It?

By Anne Smart, Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tailgating Message Sticker What is Tailgating and How Can You Combat It?Tailgating In Brief

Tailgating can be considered as dangerous practice that many drivers engage in while on the road. It involves following too closely to the vehicle ahead, and is used by some drivers to express their impatience toward another motorist, or a driving style practiced by those who have no clear understanding about road safety. By standard, a proper gap between vehicles must be two second long or a yard for every mph. Anything that is closer than about one second without showing any intent of overtaking can be considered as tailgating.

Common Causes

There are numerous reasons why drivers become tailgaters. To begin with, there are some drivers who appear to intentionally want to be tailgated. They are usually the ones who unnecessarily slow down on the road despite faster traffic behind them. Tailgating also occurs due to the ignorance of some motorists or those who are unaware of the safe gaps that are meant to be maintained while driving.

Aggressive drivers may also cause for tailgating to arise. These drivers are often impatient and they tend to direct their aggression toward the vehicle in front them, especially if they think that it is moving slowly. Another reason why tailgating happens can be attributed to heavy goods vehicles (HGV), whose drivers typically try to run at higher speed in the hope of reducing travel time and early delivery of the goods. Although drivers of HGVs do not intend to close in on the vehicle in front, their desire to maintain their speed diminishes safe gap, especially when the speed of traffic is restored.

Advanced drivers can also become tailgaters. Since they are adept to driving faster compared to other motorists, they usually tackle the “overtaking position.” The problem occurs, however, when the vehicle they are trying to overtake is also running at a high speed.

Dealing with tailgating

To avoid becoming a tailgater:

  • Do not let your emotions interfere with your driving. Even if you are in a hurry or are encountering some personal troubles, tailgating is not the right channel for you to vent your frustrations. Bear in mind that your driving behavior may encourage you to speed up unknowingly, which in turn may result for you to tailgate the vehicle ahead.
  • Follow the two-second space rule. Leaving the right amount of gap between your car and the vehicle in front will let you to safely stop in the event that the other vehicle suddenly halts. The recommended following distance is two seconds. However, it is wise to leave more than the standard two-second distance if you are driving in bad weather, are following larger or smaller vehicles, or if your car is carrying a heavy load.

To avoid becoming a victim of a tailgater:

  • Beware of your driving habits. Avoid driving below the speed limit, especially if you are in a fast moving lane.
  • Maintain a safe distance. At the least, you should be able to view the headlights of the vehicle behind yours in your rear-view mirror.
  • Give way. If you are being tailgated, consider making it easier for the tailgater to get around your car. You can slow down so that he or she can overtake, or you can choose to completely pull off the side. Do not forget to use a courteous signal for him or her to get the message.
  • Forget pride. Trying to let your emotions get to your head and doing unnecessary actions such as teaching the other driver a lesson by intentionally slowing and then accelerating or by making it hard for him or her to overtake are the quickest means to provoke hostility. As such, if you do not want to get involved in a conflict with a tailgater, it is your best bet to be considerate

Tailgating is not acceptable in public roads, as it stirs hostility among motorists. Sadly, not all drivers understand its associated dangers. If you are a motorist yourself, it is your responsibility to drive sensibly. It is only by doing so that you can avoid becoming a tailgater or becoming a victim of a bumper-rider.

Sean Burns who runs a driving instructors in edinburgh company called Capital Driver Training wrote this article. He offers driving lessons to pupils in Edinburgh and throughout central Scotland.

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