By on November 8, 2013
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A tailgater is a bully par excellence and his weapon is the “I’m not touching you” game. You remember that game, don’t you? It’s the one where your older brother tries to hit you as hard as he can but always manages to miss by a fraction of an inch. When you flinch or complain to your mom the refrain is always the same: “I never even touched you.” Of course, to keep things interesting, sometimes he does actually hit you – if he always missed you’d have nothing to fear, right? On the road the game is almost exactly the same and nine times out of ten the bully never hits you. But once in a while – once in a great while – it’s “metal up your ass.”

We all know how it feels when a tailgater slides up behind. It starts innocently enough when he is just another car running with traffic but soon he has eased up onto your bumper until he is mere inches away. Your heart begins to beat faster as you look in the rearview and see him sitting back there, his unblinking, angry eyes boring into your own via the mirror. You look away and accelerate slightly to add some distance but he matches your move and slips slightly to the left where he fills your side-view mirror with light from his driver’s side headlight. The pressure builds.

Photo courtesy of Smartdriving.co.uk

As it is with physical bullying, being the victim of a tailgater can cause you a great deal of mental stress. No matter how strong or self-assured you might be in real life, you feel the powerless before a tailgater and short of pulling over and challenging them to a fist fight you have few real options other than surrender. Hitting your brakes might lead to an accident. Gradually dropping your speed might net you a pass on the right and a close call when the other driver purposefully cuts you off as he swerves back into your lane.

My favorite tactics are more passive aggressive. If it is raining, I slide over onto the wettest part of the road and kick up as much spray as possible. It helps if there are pebbles and small debris there as well and anything my tires can kick up becomes a weapon in my private little war, tiny missiles that stick to his windshield or impinge upon his paint. Eventually I will tire of the game and move right but if the tailgater has been especially annoying I do it as slowly as possible. I may even let off the gas to drop my speed as I change lanes, causing the other driver some discomfort as I unexpectedly slow mid-lane change.

Of course all these kinds of things are quite petty, aren’t they? How much more simple life would be if people stayed right except to pass or to allow others onto the freeway. How much more simple things would be if our egos weren’t all wrapped up in huge pieces of steel running down the highway at speeds exceeding a mile a minute. We should all live and let live and love our neighbors as ourselves, right? Riiight…

Image courtesy of memebase.com

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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239 Comments on “Toyed With From Behind: Hitting Back...”


  • avatar
    bigdaddyp

    Why is Jesus back seat driving Bruce Campbell?

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    … or, you could not take it personally and just move to the right and let them pass

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      How am I not to take it personally when my safety is at risk? Being followed by half a second by a toy truck weighing three times my car’s weight on a county road at night during deer strike season?

      Move to the right? Maybe there’s only one lane. Maybe you’re already in the right lane. Maybe you need to be in the left lane to make an up coming left turn. What then? Pull over and park? Your solution seems to be to reward the bullies for their dangerous incompetence.

      Tailgaters seem to fall into two categories: Those who want to coerce you into exceeding the speed limit beyond the degree that you already are, and those who are oblivious to anything more than five metres beyond their front bumper. (If you’re more than fifteen feet in front of them they haven’t seen you yet).

      I have no solution for the bullies, but speeding up slightly, then mildly downshifting, over and over, seems to wake up the oblivious ones. For a while at least.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        You are the one causing a safety issue by not getting over. The If you kept an eye on your rear view and just got over when you see a faster car approaching there would be nothing to report. Instead you feel the need to police the speed you deemed correct, because anybody going faster then you is going way to fast. I bet you also get angry when someone is going slower then your approved speed because your speed is the only correct one.

        • 0 avatar
          993cc

          You assume a lot.
          Just to be clear: I do not drive in the left lane on a freeway unless I am passing. If I see a car coming up behind me, I speed up and “get over” as soon as it is safe to do so. If I come across a car going slower than I do, (yes, it happens) I adjust to their speed and keep a safe following distance until it is safe to pass. I never drive under the speed limit unless conditions require it, yet I still get tailgated all the time, and it bothers me that so many drivers feel entitled to coerce me into driving the speed THEY deem correct because they are unaware of the conditions or just impatient.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “it bothers me that so many drivers feel entitled to coerce me into driving the speed THEY deem correct because they are unaware of the conditions or just impatient.”

            I just put an edge on my chisel because I want that in stone.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          My wife and I refer to these as “Adherents of the One True Speed”. They are Heretics, Apostates who remember truly driving once, but no longer do so. Dissatisfied with what they now do in their own car, they attempt to control the driving of those around them. Without them, our roads could handle at least 20% more traffic. Their tactics are technically illegal in most states, but never prosecuted by LEO’s. The should lose their driving privileges and be forced to ride the damn bus, surrounded by what they thought they wanted, people going exactly the same speed as they are.

          • 0 avatar

            I think it was David E. Davis who coined the term “Anti-Destination League” for these drivers. I’m not sure what the “tailgating issue” really is; if someone is behind me and they want to go by, I let them by as soon as I possibly can. I certainly don’t want to impede their travel, nor do I want them stuffed up my tailpipe. Even if the traffic is heavy, it’s just as easy to let the person go by – it might just be someone on the way to the hospital with their kid.

        • 0 avatar
          Kevin Kluttz

          +1

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Who cares if they pass using a perfectly good lane that happens to be on the right side? Why are they cruising in the left lane anyway? Why assume that ashat tailgaters only do this in the left lane? (That’s sure not the case around here–tailgaters will ride your as in the right lane or any other.)

      Most states do not require people to move over. I don’t know how many restrict “passing on the right” or even adequately define it.

      • 0 avatar

        You’re kidding, right?

        In almost all states, I believe, it is against the law to drive in the “passing lane”. Passing using any available lane isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerous.

        You must be from Massachusetts…

        • 0 avatar
          MZ3AUTOXR

          Funny – I live in Massachusetts and have seen the programmable signs reminding people that the left lane is for passing only.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          As someone who learned to drive in Massachusetts, there are signs everywhere on the highways reminding you to keep right, and on three or more lane sections of highway that truck use of the left lane is illegal.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatist

      I’m with you. Find the next place and pull over. There is nothing to be gained getting into a battle of wills with an idiot.

  • avatar
    bachewy

    Oh if only we could all drive with patience and take the keys away from a-holes and brainless drivers.

    If only everyone would look in the mirror to see if they’re one of those two categories. I recently realized I was driving way too angry and made personal changes to take it easy and not Hulk out behind the wheel. My commute is a much more pleasant experience now.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Cruise Control. Let them tailgate you all they want. If your speed doesn’t change by even one mile per hour, they lose the game. I can’t tell you how many tailgaters I’ve pinned in a pocket because I’m running exactly with traffic and they can’t get enough room to squirt through that narrow gap between me and the car to my side.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      This technique still won’t save you if somebody’s dog runs out in front of you. You’re still forced to choose between killing the dog and getting slammed.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      cruise control. That’s a great solution so long as you aren’t in the passing lane. If you are in that lane then you are demonstrating why DMV books across the nation define the leftmost lane as for passing not cruising. The predictable result is people passing on the right, which is less safe for everyone on the road, especially the person getting passed.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Not smart if you’re doing that in the left lane. I’d tailgate you and I despise tailgaters! Right lane heck yeah.

  • avatar
    buzzdsm

    90% of this could be solved if people used the left lane for passing. That means getting in the left lane, speed up to pass, and moving back over. It doesn’t mean driving 56 mph in the left lane and the guy beside you is driving 55 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      To be fair here, a lot of tailgaters don’t care if you’re using the left lane properly to pass, or even driving in the right lane in traffic with a car right in front of you. Yes, if you’re putzing along in the left lane and not passing you deserve to be tailgated probably, but it goes way beyond that.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      Left lanes are also used for turning left. The law does not require you to match the speed of the fastest driver on the road to make a left turn.

      • 0 avatar
        buzzdsm

        You know that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the other 99% of the time when you’re on an interstate/freeway

        • 0 avatar
          993cc

          100% of the time I’m being tailgated in the left lane, it is NOT on a freeway. I rarely drive on freeways, and usually I’m content to stay in the right lane when I do.

          • 0 avatar
            Kaosaur

            Emphatically this. What’s with people wanting to go 15+ over the limit in residential areas?

            If I’m holding one of those people back in the left lane, I’m doing everyone a favor.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            No, you’re not, because they’ll do increasingly dangerous things to get past you if you try to stop them, and then be in an even more aggressive mood once they do get past.

            Where do people get the idea that aggravating someone will make them act safely and reasonably?

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Then get in the left lane when you’re half a mile from your turn. A left turn or exit 10 minutes from now doesn’t make the left lane an acceptable cruise lane now.

        • 0 avatar
          993cc

          How about three blocks then? When urban traffic gets congested, opportunities for safe lane changes become rare. You sometimes have to plan ahead and use the gaps that present themselves, rather than waiting until the last hundred metres and forcing yourself between two vehicles that are already too close together.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            If it’s that congested, you should have no trouble keeping up with the flow of traffic.

          • 0 avatar
            993cc

            “If it’s that congested, you should have no trouble keeping up with the flow of traffic.”

            Around here, congested does not mean slow. And I could keep up with traffic, but I like my 25-year violation-free driving record and low insurance rates.

  • avatar
    fordcomm

    I stumbled across the short story Duel in the April, 1971 edition of Playboy (stolen from my Dad’s stash) — it was the first time I actually ignored the pictures and read Playboy for an article. The story was that good. When I saw the movie version, it was one of those near-perfect movies that kept me locked onto the screen through every gut-wrenching second. I saw Duel a couple of months ago and you know what, it still holds up pretty damn well. Duel — the movie about Road Rage before Road Rage was cool (or uncool).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Nice selection for the video – early Spielberg genius.

    Now that I’m an EV driver, I find I’m sticking with the speed limit more often, and as a result, subject to numerous tailgaters. It’s amazing how many people can’t tolerate someone just driving at the speed limit. I’ve been that person before.

    Yeah, I get the blah, blah, blah “keeping up with the flow of traffic” story. I’m not suggesting being a hazard to others by driving too slow.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If someone is behind you and aggressively wants to go by you, pull over and let them. Even in a residential area. I have had the pleasure several times of doing this on my street and seeing the idiot zip right into the speed trap the cops love to have a mile up the road from my house. I like to give a little toot and wave as I go by them pulled over.

      I am secure enough in my manhood that I don’t take being passed as a personal affront.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    As someone who drives too much, typically close to 2 hours per day in congested traffic, I can sometimes sympathize withe the tailgater. You have to truly do some soul searching to answer the question of who is the A$$ hole when a car in the left lane is a mile behind the next car and holding up traffic and he is being tailgated. The tailtager or the slow inconsiderate b’tard in front of him. Just a little gas would and a lane change would correct the situation, but alas, the line of cars has to wait minutes and miles while the tailgatee inches past the cars in the other lane.

    On a side note, an act that I will never understand or defend, is the tailgater who is on the bumper of someone in heavy traffic or when there is a line of cars blocking said tailgater. Even if he managed to get past, he only gained 20 feet. Pointless. This driver is jackass through and through.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      Similarity is that both drivers are being impolite. The difference is that only the tailgater is endangering anyone.

      • 0 avatar
        chainyanker

        You said above, “I have no solution for the bullies, but speeding up slightly, then mildly downshifting, over and over, seems to wake up the oblivious ones.” So when, in your opinion, someone is following too close, your solution is to erratically change speeds solely to antagonize the follower and disrupt the flow of traffic. I think you’re the one endangering people. Move right or pull over. Everyone thinks their speed is the right speed. Everyone’s wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          993cc

          1) Once again, if I’m already in the right lane, how do I pull over?
          2) Too close is not a matter of opinion. If you don’t give me enough space to slam on the brakes when someone’s kid runs out in front of me, without you hitting me from behind, you’re too close. If mild downshifting freaks you out, you’re too close to avoid hitting me in a panic stop. If you were following with at least a two second gap, you wouldn’t even need to adjust your speed before I sped up again.
          3) Everyone thinks their speed is the right speed. Everyone’s wrong. So why not just slow down to my (slightly above the speed limit, in the right lane) speed until you have a chance to pass?

          I don’t seek to antagonize the follower. My hope is that if I make the experience of tailgating half as uncomfortable for them as it is terrifying for me, They’ll back off. It seems to work for the oblivious ones.

          • 0 avatar
            chainyanker

            1. By “pull over” I mean that on a two-lane road, pull off the road to let faster traffic pass if you’re really that terrified and uncomfortable with their following distance.
            2. Your observation of the situation through your rearview mirror amounts to an opinion. Whether or not the car behind you has to adjust his speed, you are still intentionally changing yours for the sole purpose of affecting the traffic behind you which is not safe.
            3. If the car behind hasn’t impacted you then he has obviously slowed to your speed. If you feel you’re being tailgated in the right lane on a multi-lane road and fear for your safety, then in that case move left to let the tailgater pass and get away from you – safer than provoking an incident.

            I’m guessing you are not a cop or a driving instructor so don’t act like one.

          • 0 avatar
            993cc

            1) “I mean that on a two-lane road, pull off the road to let faster traffic pass” So, basically, only those willing to exceed the speed limit by 15-20 kph should be able to use the roads. Now who’s being a cop?
            2) Just as it is possible to count the seconds between your own car and the one ahead, it is possible to count the seconds between your own and the one behind. Half a second is not enough. This is not an opinion, it’s physics.
            I am changing my speed for the sole purpose of trying to WAKE UP the oblivious driver behind me. As I said, it doesn’t work for the bullies.
            3) It seems here that you’re recommending that I BECOME a left lane bandit so the tailgater can pass me without having to endure the inconvenience of changing lanes. Why can’t he just pass me?

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I’m not a slow driver and have been tailgated going 10 mph over the limit. If I accelerated to 30 over they’d still be back there I assure you. And yes, I’ve been tailgated stuck in traffic! The true gaters don’t give an S what the situation is. They’re just bullies as the columnist is saying.

      Those who tailgate the self righteous dicks who drive slow in the left lane are not smart but fall into a different category.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I always say that “it’s not your job to enforce the speed limit!” Especially in the left lane–when out there “pass, then move over when you can!” Unless you have a gun and badge, or some connection to an Almighty (nail marks in your hands might be really handy), get the he– out of the way! It’s the guy-behind-you’s ticket, NOT yours!

        True story–one of the pastors at my church always followed the numbers on the sign! Then one day, in a single-lane 35mph zone, with traffic bunching up behind her (on a road where 40 or 45mph is perfectly safe, and likely not heavily patrolled or enforced), an SUV darted out of the line, went over the double-yellow and passed her with horn honking and obscene gestures flying–then nearly went up onto two wheels turning into the HOSPICE a mile or so up the road! IOW, your being judge and jury for the rest of the populace could impact someone with a genuine emergency–someone who maybe should have called EMS, but didn’t, and now is trying to get to the hospital at all costs. Or someone who may not to be able to give comfort to a dying loved one, because of your self-righteous smugness. (BTW, that pastor now gives a cushion of five-over in town, which is somewhat reasonable. I, myself, have been directly ahead a local cop doing 40 in a 35, with my V1 clearly visible and flashing his Ka warning, and the cop did nothing; well, if he would have been any closer, I would have had his grille in my trunk, but my point is that he didn’t pull me over to be a dick about the radar detector, which would have been more probable than the speed.)

        Something to think about.

  • avatar
    vcficus

    Off topic: “Metal Up Your Ass” – this was the album title Cliff Burton of Metallica was intent on having instead of “Kill Em All” for their first record… cover was going to be a toilet with a sword sticking out of it.

    After being repeatedly told by other bandmates and management that stores would simply not stock the record he caved… should he have stuck to his guns… err.. not fallen on his sword?

    On topic: I rigged a switch to my brake lights on my 76 Buick Regal in college after getting several close tailgating calls… just click them on while speeding up, gets em every time…

  • avatar
    SlowMyke

    If someone is tailgating you because you’re sitting in the left lane for no reason, get out of the way. No ego, you’re in the wrong despite the d-baggery happening behind you. However if there’s a legitimate reason to be in the left lane or you’re on a two-lane road, then I fully support the above tactics. I usually will coast down at least 10 mph (unless there’s a ton of cars behind, don’t want to be THAT guy) or I’ll make it more obvious and touch the brakes just enough to light them up. That usually gets a hard brake from the tailgater and after a few times they get it. If that doesn’t work and they are tailgating because they want to push you out of the way and not just because they mindlessly follow too close, then I try to turn off out of their way when I get a chance. No use letting my ego get the best of me, which I know will happen if I stay engaged with a tailgater for too long.

    Oh, and sometimes a wave at them will let them know I see them and to chill out. Sometimes it gets a salute back.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      A while back, experimenting with my mileage, I discovered that it is, in fact, mechanically possible to accelerate and decelerate smoothly and slowly enough to keep Toyota’s “Eco” light on. And lo and behold, I discovered (1) that a tC can push 30 mpg in ex-urban driving, (2) that you actually catch fewer stop lights, (3) that you get places in roughly the same amount of time, and (4) that, deprived of jackrabbit starts and brake-pumps, you just have to leave a lot more space between yourself and the rest of traffic.

      Point being, tailgaters hate everything about this, and that is a beautiful thing. I find that the smile, wave, thumbs-up strategy pops the most tailgater blood vessels, fwiw.

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        You’re a god-damned superhero, sir.

        Nice.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Amen.

        I mean, I don’t care about “Eco lights” or all THAT much about economy, but I still drive like #4.

        It’s not only safer, but makes for superior traffic flow – if everyone learned to do that in “stop and go” traffic it’d all go *faster*.

        (I also always keep right except when passing; years of driving first a totally underpowered pickup and now a very, very heavy one [as a non-daily-driver] leads to one not being in an ass-on-fire hurry all the time.)

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Same here. Makes driving a stick in traffic effortless. I love watching the cars jackrabbiting in the next lane end up still right next to me after 10 miles of stop and go where I have changed gear twice. And I have to admit, every once in a while I get some idiot behind mr who is absolutely going mental that I am not accelerating right up to the stopped traffic in front of me. Funny thing, they are ALWAYS driving an expensive SUV, male or female.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    If you drive a pickup or bof suv, try installing something like this:

    http://www.autozone.com/autozone/accessories/Reese-10000-lbs-GTW-1000-lbs-tongue-weight-adjustable-interchangeable-hitch-trailer-ball-system/_/N-25ywZ1z141af?itemIdentifier=6185_0_0_

    I have found it tends to discourage tailgaters, esp. if it extends
    about 10″ or so beyond the bumper.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      I had a DMI Quic-Cush’n (look it up) hitch on an old F250 and that worked pretty well. Between the hitch and the fact that a 1992 F250 is built like a giant tank, people always seemed to leave me alone.

      I’ve always wanted a metal spike to come out of the back of the truck. Just something simple, that looks like a pencil. That would be perfect! Follow too closely and you’ll need a new radiator!

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        I hate tailgaters.

        When I took driver training (1950′s), we used the “One-car-length (20-foot)-per-10-mph” rule, not the “Count-to-3-past-a-stationary-object” rule, which I think is BS.
        The Purpose: you MUST be able to stop without crashing if the guy in front slams on his brakes, regardless of his speed.

        Anyway, nowadays, I don’t think people use either rule, or any other, hence tailgating is rampant.

        But I have been entertaining this fictional fantasy as a way to cure this problem – - –
        After removing the tailgate form my pick-up, I’ve always wanted to use U-bolts to clamp two RR ties longitudinally to the frame, right through my truck bed, but protruding out the back 3 feet and 9 inches beyond the body. Why 3 feet and 9 inches? Because 4-feet and more is illegal in this area.

        So, being fully armed, with warning signs and flags attached to the RR ties, I would happily slam on my brakes in front of the offending, oblivious, morally degenerate, socially irresponsible tailgater, and delightfully impale the SOB. Then we could wait for the police, and have a nice discussion about the laws of physics and the laws of Wisconsin….

        I’d be off the hook: “Gee, officer, I was just hauling these landscaping timbers, and this offending, oblivious, morally degenerate, socially irresponsible SOB was driving much too closely. As you see, he/she couldn’t stop in time, when I tired to avoid hitting the squirrel that ran across the road…”

        Just a fantasy….but, boy, sometimes…..

        (^_^)….

        ——————–

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Damn straight it is, my mom’s boyfriend has a ’94 F250 we use whenever sh*t needs moving. It’s black, it’s got the long bed, and it’s lifted, must have been some kind of factory installed kit. People tend to stay out of your way when you’re behind them in such a behemoth.

        Not so good at turning, though.

    • 0 avatar
      twinsonic

      Love the idea, but if you can’t put on a reese hitch, you can rig up the backup lights of your car and flip the switch when the idiot decides to climb up your backside – I haven’t done it but I have heard that other drivers who did got results. Cars going into the guardrail, in the ditch or median. It can make that idiot pucker up so tight, that you couldn’t pull a greased tee with a pair of pliers…….

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        That’s the best solution I have read here, by far. I’m inspired to go wire up a switch to my backup lights.
        That’s even better than tossing random objects out the sunroof!

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          RHD – - –

          Gee, I like your idea. It would seem that a handy supply of little water balloons sitting on the passenger’s seat would do just nicely! (^_^).

          But another pick-up truck idea I’ve had, and fantasized about, is putting a 5-gallon water can in the bed, with an electric spray nozzle attached. When following cars get too close, just hit the little switch on the dash board, and give the guy a surprise windshield wash!

          Should be harmless, but get the message across…

          ——-

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      Farm tags and one of these and there are surprisingly little to no problems with tailgaters. For some reason.

      http://washburncompany.com/pickup_hydraulic_hay_bale_mover_%20spear_pusp10.JPG

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Old ground for me. I stay in the right lane and do ≤ 7 over the limit. After decades of that the skin on my back is much thicker than in front.

    Let the heathens rage, I am down with Jesus and the Law.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The scary ones it seems are the pokey-ass drivers who are hell-bent on making sure the world moves at your pace. Just because you’ve got no place to go doesn’t mean others don’t. Stop being so selfish and vindictive and let the a-holes pass. While you two butt-heads are playing chicken with each other you’re inconveniencing the rest of us who just want to get where we’re going. If you want to be a self-righteous idiot, go spit in the eye of armed robber, but please leave the rest of us out of your childish games

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    If I get a bumper humper, I usually slow down gradually to spite them. Why reward poor behavior?

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Cruise control for all and a cell phone for commercial trucks. The latter usually have their companies name plastered all over. I call their company and give them date, time, description of vehicle and usually a nice ” Say, your drivers are normally good but I can’t read the front plate on the vehicle behind me and at 55 mph, that’s a bit close”.

    The absolute worst tailgaters are some motorcyclists, they’ll hang on your bumper riding handlebar on edge of the centerline. I ignore them too.

  • avatar
    Kaosaur

    As someone driving a small sports car in the South, I get tailgaters no matter what lane I’m in. It’s always pickups. RAM and Silverado in particular. They sure love to show me how much more of a man they are than me. Or something.

    I wonder if they know that I don’t have airbags or ABS or anything like that.

    People also seem to get really mad that I leave 3-4 seconds between myself and the next car. Everyone here wants to drive at 1/2 a car length @ 80 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “People also seem to get really mad that I leave 3-4 seconds between myself and the next car.”

      Bravo you. I do the same.

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        My best friend in high school died when his newly-licensed friend drove them off an icy road on a mountain. I didn’t get my license for 10 more years in part because of that.

        I tend to take driving safety pretty damn seriously.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          No joke that. I had a bad high school wreck that knocked me out and totaled two cars. But for a seatbelt I might’ve broken my neck on the B-pillar. No fault was assessed because of snow/ice but I know that 10 years later I wouldn’t have let my car start fishtailing the way I did.

          High school driving is kind of like going to war. Some don’t make it back and I’m sorry your friend was one.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      +1000 on the 3-4 sec gap…

      HOWEVER, on most multi-lane roads, it often only results in one or more vehicles immediately filling the gap.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Try driving in Jersey. Georgia drivers may be bad, but they still don’t hold a candle to those on the Jersey Turnpike!

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        I’m from NY. I know all about Jersey drivers.

        Georgia and Carolina drivers are way worse. Especially the tourists/transplants, who mostly seem to be from Ohio, so let’s lump them in too.

        The way people drive around Hilton Head and Charleston, it’s a wonder everyone doesn’t get killed.

        Or to put things in perspective, I’m also a cyclist. South Carolina used to have the highest bicycle fatalities by motorists per captia in the US. My first week living here, I was run down on my bike by one of my neighbors who fled the scene.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          I am from the South and sadly, I agree. Southerners tend to think they drive well and it’s those “damned Yankees” that can’t drive. Sadly, they are wrong. Years in the military have taken me all over and by far Atlanta is the worst place I have driven and that INCLUDES 4 years in Naples Italy and 9 months in Baghdad.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup !!!!! My BMW attracts pickup truck guys in full d bag mode, and my VW…never.

      I laugh, as the truck dogging me is a 30k plus rig, and my olde BMW is worth 8k. For some reason, though, it still annoys them.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        speedlaw – - –

        Interesting.

        I have (now) 5 vehicles: 2 BMW’s, 2 pick-ups , and a Jeep.

        When I drive the Bimmers, I get tailgated MUCH more, and lose both ways:

        1) When I go a bit fast (to avoid being tailgated), people say: “There, see, that shows you what inconsiderate d-bags BMW drivers are”. (I’ve heard this myself.);
        2) When I go a bit slower (to let annoying speeders get by), people say “There, see, that shows you what self-involved road-hogs BMW drivers are”. (I’ve also heard this myself.)

        When I drive the pick-ups, nobody messes with me, regardless of how I drive….

        —————-

    • 0 avatar
      Drewlssix

      By your avatar Im guessing your sports car is an FC RX7? In truck country such a car is grounds for all sorts of harassment. I got similar treatment in my MX6 but surprisingly I get similar treatment in my Silverado. I guess a bog standard reg cab long bed 2wd pickup dosent warrant any respect in this modern world of stupidly lifted crew cabs with vestigial beds. That part really gets me, I bought my truck to be a truck not a rolling cod piece. Considering what I use my real truck for compared to these essentially useless $55,000 cushmobiles I have to chuckle at the idea of them being the trucks ‘real men” drive.

  • avatar
    The Dark One

    Similar to what VFICUS said about having a switch to flash your taillights on demand: when driving a car with red turn indicators, just turn on your hazard lights and let them flash a couple fo times. You get the same effect without all the extra wiring. Also,and this IS childish, if somene passes you at night and then won’t get significantly ahead of you, drift toward the center line so your headlights will shine in their side view mirrors and annoy them. Not that I have ever done this sort of thing before.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      While I agree that the behaviour your describe is annoying, regrettably, establishing a safe following distance in a reasonable time is still your responsibility. If you hit him, you can’t use the excuse that he was driving too close in front of you.

  • avatar
    Toad

    I was sympathetic until I read the line “Eventually I will tire of the game and move right…”

    If you are blocking traffic in the left lane you are an asshat. The left lane is for faster traffic; if you are blocking traffic, just move over and let people pass you, whatever their speed or yours is.

    To many drivers think that everybody going slower is blocking traffic, but everybody going faster than they are is a maniac. It doesn’t work that way; don’t tailgate in the right lane and don’t block traffic in the left lane.

    It’s really not that complicated.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Absolutely!

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      +1. And if I’m on a two-lane road, I’ll pull over and let him pass. Only takes a couple seconds, and getting the guy off my ass makes me safer, well worth it. What torques me is when I’m in the right lane doing the speed limit and somebody gets on my tail. I’ll just let off the gas until they pass, sometimes down to 40 mph. I can’t see why some people are so shy about passing on a multi-lane interstate, that’s what those extra lanes are for.

      Had somebody riding my tail once and there was a shredded truck tire in the road. I lined up with it on my left tire, then swerved at the last second to miss it. My pigy-backer nailed it, bounced so hard I think her head put a dent in her roof. She backed off after that.

  • avatar
    Nichodemus

    Most often I have tailgaters when I’m on a 2-lane “highway” and I’m in a line of 5 or 6 or 23 cars headed by an old rusty Buick going 44 mph, and followed by a “farm use” truck that can’t pass the Buick for any number of reasons. Rest of us stack up behind them. Then the tailgater is right on me like I can do anything about it. Tapping the brakes just enough to get his/her attention sometimes helps.

    Equally annoying and dangerous in this situation is when the tailgater decides to pass about 5 cars at one time…and still winds up in the pack moving 44 mph, just a little further ahead.

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    A. Get out of the left lane

    1. Accelerate gently, then lift off (repeat several times)
    2. If #1 doesn’t work, clean your windshield

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Eventually I will tire of the game and move right”

    What pleasure do you derive from obstructing traffic?

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      Some people derive pleasure from the displeasure of others.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Amen. Anyone that gets tailgated more than once a month is the Obama.

    • 0 avatar

      He started it.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        No, you started it by not moving over as soon as you saw someone who wanted to pass.

        I like you Tom, but this hits a nerve.

        • 0 avatar

          I like you too and am sorry of I’ve caused you any consternation.

          The phrase I used in the article was an unfortunate choice of words and isn’t really reflective of what I do in real life – not these days anyhow. My road rage days are well and gone behind me.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I think that I may have done some damage to my last car due to my “road angst” tendencies–lots of full-throttle acceleration and the like.

            I spent the extra money to get the 2013 Honda Accord Touring, which included two features above and beyond the V6 Sedan with Navigation: LED headlights, and importantly for me, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); ACC can use throttle and brakes to adjust your car’s speed to the traffic ahead.

            Better living through technology–my rage came from the fact that I’m convinced that the cruise control, not my (heavy) right foot, gets the best MPGs; so I was constantly on and off the gas, then flooring-it when an opening finally came in order to get around the idiot doing 64mph in the 65 zone in the passing lane. So if the car can control things, I figured I’d calm down. Placebo effect? Perhaps.

            The ACC has helped since I got the car this past March. I make sure to always stay right when I can, then let the car take the speed-monitoring duties in the center lane. (This also does a heckuva job in town, where I set the ACC to my usual five-over, then if I come upon someone who gives more heed to underposted numbers, the car takes care of it, not me. (It would be nice to be able to have the ACC work down to, say, 15mph, in order to handle Ohio’s 20mph school zones, but fortunately, the Accord’s “ECO” mode dulls throttle response enough to make those bearable. Low-speed follow and stop-and-go functionality are still expensive, so the luxury cars get that stuff first; I’m happy that the basic ACC functionality has made its way down to mainstream cars.)

            Oddly, with ACC, you do have to watch your back, since if someone changes lanes behind you and gets into “tailgating” position, even if inadvertently, you need to be ready to give the car a little gas, then let off slowly if a car is close in front, lest the car brake abruptly; occasionally, you risk having the car hit the brakes before you can disengage the cruise with the brake pedal or “Cancel” button if you’re not paying attention. (Haven’t had that happen, fortunately; I just observed the system’s behavior from the beginning, and anticipate what may happen. The benefits of ACC outweigh the little “quirks,” big-time!)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Do you routinely block doorways just for fun? (My guess is that you probably wouldn’t, as you’d have to confront the person who you are obstructing, and that could hurt.)

        The problem here is that you feel some sort of license to be rude because you feel sheltered by your shiny metal box. Likewise, the tailgater is also rude because of that same false sense of security.

        Both of you are the problem. You need to choose the appropriate lane, while the tailgater needs to back off. And both of you need to learn that driving is a social activity, and there is no call for being deliberately antisocial on public roadways. If there were enough cops to hand them out, then I would say that both of you deserve a ticket.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t disagree with your point but I think your example is wrong. What if you are walking through a doorway, or perhaps pushing your baby buggy through and someone rushes up and tries to push past you. Do you think they would have the guts to do that? Do you think you would have an obligation to try and get out of their way? Would you say something to let them know they should back off?

          Generally these days I hang out in the right lane and will only go left to pass someone. I’ll even wait if I see a fast-mover coming up hard and then move over after they go through,but say I am in a pass and another slow moving car shifts into the hole I was planning on merging back into after I made my pass. Am I obligated to speed up to 80mph to get around them and clear the lane for the other fast guys? Generally I will speed up, but that doesn’t placate people. What then?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The doorway is analogous because the point of movement for traffic is obvious, and most people would not delberately block the path of others just for sport.

            “Generally I will speed up, but that doesn’t placate people. What then?”

            In that case, you have earned the right to be annoyed.

            I tend to be one of the faster cars on the road, but I don’t indicate my desire to pass by tailgating. At the same time, I expect those slower drivers to allow me to pass when the adjacent lane is clear, and that’s a reasonable expectation.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            In the odd occasion someone comes up behind me significantly faster, while I’m in the process of passing, I’ll pretty much immediately throw on my turn signal – call it an attempt to let them know I understand they want me out of the way.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I call it “Leading the Parade” I think some deliberately slow down so they can be the front guy in charge leading the parade. These are guys who never get to be in charge of anything, so this is their one chance. The psychological implications are boundless

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I had a good friend in the Marines who told me how he and the driver of a USMC wrecker dispensed some roadside justice to a tailgater one night in NC. They were driving along on a two lane road while being tail gated by some yahoo in a pickup. As they approaced a curve to the right in the road, the marine driving the wrecker flicked on the lights on the back of the truck. The last thing they saw was in the rear view mirrow was the pick up leaving the road and entering the woods.
    You could say he had it comming.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    I don’t understand being tailgated. It doesn’t happen to me. If I see someone approaching that obviously deserves to get past, because they’re going faster and I’m secure enough to not feel this is a personal affront, I move over. On a two lane? Doesn’t matter, pull off the road. Let them by. Not hard, I do it, though I rarely need to because I’m not one of the slower drivers on the road.

    Think they’re going too fast and it’s dangerous? Well guess what, your attempts to slow them down will only tear down their scruples as you piss them off further. You might not like that Johnny Baddriver wants to do 50 in the residential zone, but if you try to block him, he’ll do a full buck just to get past you. And then it’s YOUR fault that he drove into all those children.

    The people who will play games with someone who just wants to pass are, I assume, the same types of people who tortured pets as children, or egged people’s houses or cars. People who get a kick out of pissing other people off.

    Personally, I do everything I can to avoid holding others up, because I know what I think about when I’m behind someone driving restrictively, and I don’t want anyone thinking that about me.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      Why was this moderated? Can I not say p*ss?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      This has been my attitude as well. I also find that I’m rarely tailgated as a result. Doesn’t matter how fast anyone is going, if someone wants to go faster I just move over. It never even occurs to me to take it personally. If someone starts to play games with me and the usual cars behind me that are trying to get by, that is when it starts getting personal

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I’ll go up to 80mph or so, if needed, to be able to get around slower traffic to my right, in order to tuck in and let faster traffic go by. (Provided I can do so safely.)

        I’ll also do the same thing just to get out of a “pack” on the freeway, even carefully passing on the right if necessary. (As I related above, I am much more careful, safe and smooth with this new, Adaptive Cruise Control-equipped Honda Accord. If nothing else, amazing what a SIGNIFICANT CAR PAYMENT will do to one’s behavior, in addition to what I posted previously!)

    • 0 avatar
      SlowMyke

      Most of your points are good except for the crappy driver smoking kids being my fault because he floored it to get around me. Still his fault for being an idiot. And of all places, I will most certainly block someone in a residential area if I’m doing thirty or the limit and he wants to go fifty. I’d feel far more responsible if I said ok sir go right ahead and he hit a kid right after. If he does floor it around me, I’ll alert the police of his license and whereabout. There’s a time and place for nascar driving and a neighborhood certainly isn’t it.

      But again, aside from there being a real danger of hitting people in front of their homes, I’ll generally let people by to avoid getting into needless confrontation. The only way to make a point with some of these people would be to beat it into them because they just don’t care for the logic. And I’ll be honest, I may be able to beat it into some of them, but I’m not going to find out if that’s true or not so I’d rather just let the real crazies go by.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      On a two lane road, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt obligated to pull over as long as I’m doing a reasonable speed (going slowly because I’m towing a trailer? I’d pull over every time there were two or three cars lined up behind me). That said, when I get to a safe passing section, I’ll slow down a bit, and edge towards the shoulder, try and make that pass as easy for the person behind me as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “On a two lane? Doesn’t matter, pull off the road. Let them by.”

      Nuts to that.

      Unless I’m towing or going way under the limit for some reason, I’m not pulling off into the dirt or risking a nail to my tire from shoulder trash just to let someone by that has the need for speed.

      If they want to pass me they can cross the double yellow line or wait the 1.5 miles till the dashed yellow or buy an ambulance or petition the county to build a passing lane.

      • 0 avatar
        993cc

        More to the point, if you’re driving in a city where 25% of the drivers tailgate, you’d never get anywhere, because you’d ALWAYS be pulled over.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        This is one of the “it’s not your job to police the speed limit,” as well.

        In broad daylight with good sightlines, five over isn’t going to be life and death. With my ACC-equipped car, I don’t get AS pi$$ed since the car can continue to keep speed, but still….

        (And even if I’m set to 62 in a 55 on a two-lane, if the shoulder seems good enough, I’ll move over a bit if I can. (Even rolled down the window and waved someone by this summer.)

  • avatar
    old fart

    90% of the time a person being tailgated is impeding traffic , move over or speed up. If you’re in the left lane regulating traffic speed, get professional help . If you’re afraid of hydroplaning in the rain when everyone else is going faster , get better tires. If you can’t drive in the snow , stay home. If you’re too old to drive fast , stay on the side streets. If none of the above apply and it’s just a jackwagon behind you on a no passing road and you’re doing at least 5 over the limit ,dim your mirror ,move the side view mirror and flash your brakes before you have to stop and hope for the best .

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      The real danger is if you have good tires and the tailgater doesn’t. I had the back bumper of my car torn off by a tailgater once when I stopped for a red light in the snow.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      “Eventually I will tire of the game and move right”

      It’s an ego thing. He feels he is going ‘fast enough’ therefore he is ‘in the right.’

      He even wrote an entire article defending is terrible driving practices. So many people have this attitude. Yes you let the ‘tailgater’ win when you move over.

      But so what – you are making the situation SAFER. Why risk whiplash just to ‘prove a point.’ It often takes two morons to create an accident.

  • avatar
    usernamealreadyregistered

    Well, then. People seem to have rather strong feelings about all of this. As a spirited driver who likes to think of myself as well-behaved, I’m not sure where I fit in.

    First, it would help if all drivers attempted, when possible, to abide by the maxim “lead, follow or get out of the way.” I know, I know, left turns and two lane roads – I said “when possible.”

    Second, I’m not convinced that slow drivers on the highway are generally safer drivers. My experience has been that the worst left lane dawdlers often appear to be engrossed in an activity other than driving. Speed differential is relevant to everyone’s safety.

    Third, you have to respond to traffic as it is, not as you believe it should be. If you’re a slowpoke who thinks the speed limit should represent an actual limit, get over the fact that few other people drive that way. Your moral indignation may keep you warm at night but you’re really not making the road safer by forcing the rest of the world to slow down. If you’re a leadfoot, accept the fact that many people don’t – and maybe shouldn’t – feel comfortable at your speed. You probably don’t understand physics as well as you think you do.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      Thank you for the respectful tone of your comment.
      I would say, however, that the majority of the “moral indignation” I have sensed from the comments in general is that of those who feel that their rights have been infringed by someone exceeding the legal maximum insufficiently. I get that left lane bandits are frustrating, but shouldn’t it be within our rights to be left alone if we just want to drive in the right lane at a speed close to the legal limit? If you want to go faster, I’m fine with that, but until you pass me, please just give me some space. (I’m using “you” here rhetorically, I don’t mean you personally)

  • avatar
    2KAgGolfTDI

    With an older VW TDI, it’s fun to play with the pedal and the gears, and give the tailgater a nice cloud of diesel smoke to drive in.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Tailgaters are only a symptom.

    The disease is people moving copiously slow or below the speed of traffic. I often wish I had an RPG mounted on my hood to destroy every pewter Buick with a Landau roof going 20 in a 45 zone.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Wrong! The disease is people wanting to move excessively ABOVE the speed limit. When I’m cruising on the freeway in the three states I normally drive, I set my cruise usually to 5mph over the speed limit. That means I’m either doing 60, 65 or 70. At that rate, I tend to pass mostly trucks on uphill grades or people actually doing the speed limit–rare in the case of non-trucks. Unless I get behind a whole string, I drop back into the right lane as soon as it is reasonably safe. I don’t speed up either, since there’s usually an open third lane to my left for those who want to go 10mph or more faster. BUT…

      One of those states has a 65mph speed limit and that same highway goes into the next state that only has a 55mph speed limit–and two MORE lanes for traffic. Typically, the AVERAGE traffic in that slower state does 70mph because all those drivers got used to doing only 5-over in the previous state at that speed. It makes for a lot of ticket-issuing, but almost nobody really slows down until after they’ve seen the troopers and then they brake HARD, causing more issues than if they’d just eased down. Me, riding along on cruise control at a mere 5-over am almost never even looked at by the radar handlers because so many others are passing me like I’m standing still–usually in the second-to-right lane to let traffic merge from an on-ramp.

      Still, with two lanes open to my left and one lane on my right where I’ve swung out to pass a slower car, some race-car-driver will whip from the lanes to my left because they’re not moving fast enough *for him* and try to pass me on the right as I’m closing on an even slower car. You can imagine his reaction when he suddenly realizes he doesn’t have enough room to cut in front of me. By then, other cars have bunched up a bit behind me and he ends up unable to back out of the pocket he put himself into. Of course, once I’ve passed that slower car I move right again, but now he still has to wait for those behind me to pick up their own speeds–if they’re going to.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        I don’t know why people are trying to pass you on the right when there are two open passing lanes. Moving at the speed of traffic is always the safest and most courteous thing to do regardless.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Try reading what I wrote again, and maybe you would understand it. That one individual wanted to go FASTER than traffic and I was going faster than the car in the right-most lane. As such, he thought he could ‘squirt through’ the gap between two slower vehicles quicker than he would go by waiting for the faster cars to pass me. As such, he pinned himself and got stuck for over a mile before he finally managed to pass me. I wasn’t actively blocking him; I made my own pass and moved over. He just made a very stupid decision.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Way to stir the hornets, Thom.

    These go-fast guys are even more sensitive about their fetish than deer hunters. For as little genuine need.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem for me, Kenmore, is that I have been on both side of this argument. I’ve been the dickhead who wants to get through and (in my darker hours) the jerk who won’t let him. For all of the pontification, I think everyone here has been on both sides – the pusher and the pushee. Where you stand on the issue depends upon where you are in line.

      This article started life as a light hearted look at the old George Carlin routine – everyone going faster than you is a maniac and everyone going slower is a jerk – but got progressivly more serious as it approached publication. Who knew so many people would have so many different opinions on the subject?

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      So what do you do when someone says “Excuse me,” trying to pass you on say, the sidewalk, or in the grocery store? Do you give them stinkeye and stand your ground?

      • 0 avatar

        No, I say excuse me and get out of the way. But if they get super close and try to intimidate me then we have a problem.

        That’s the other part of this. If I am holding up traffic in the fast lane and see people coming up on my six I get out of the road as soon as I can. If I can’t do it right away crowding me won’t help it. How would you react?

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          Well, I meant to direct that at Kenmore, you’ve made clear that you can see both sides of this and so I believe that you know how to respond reasonably. You understand that a plodding pace is not for everyone.

          I drive a slow car, so on the highway there are times when I can go as fast as possible and still need to move right. So that’s what I do to avoid getting in the way- everything I possibly can. Same on foot: I’ll jump 10 feet or curl up into a ball to let by someone trying to get past. I do this because I know how it feels to be held at an unnatural pace, and it’s frustrating whether you’re on foot, in a car, on a bicycle, or anywhere.

          • 0 avatar

            Looking at all your comments I think you and I feel pretty much the same on the subject. Really, anyone who takes a second to realize that they have been on both sides of this one will come to a similar conclusion, but it wouldn’t be any fun to tell them that, would it?

            I would have let it go on without saying anything but I really do care what some of you think about me. I don’t want to antagonize everyone.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            I don’t feel antagonized, for what it’s worth, I know you’re not trying to actually make anyone mad. This is a fun topic to push around, though I’ll admit my opinions on it are strong.

            In a previous life I drove a “custom” ’89 F Super Duty dumper (15k GVWR,)often loaded with 8 tons of masonry. I know what it’s like to be the slow guy. The bed had a foot-tall drunk-welded Ford logo made out of diamond plate and plasma cut 3/4″ flat steel block letters, on a removable, 150# top-hinge door which was well tweaked and obviously close to falling off. The chassis visibly acted as a leaf spring when it was 5000# overloaded. Anyone with eyes and sense would have stayed away or passed, but despite living in the right lane, people would stick like velcro to the rear of what must have been the least safe vehicle on the road. Those people, I’m not sure I feel bad about slowing them down.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        No, I let them by. Just like I do speeders whenever possible. Deliberately blocking them would be like holding in a fart. Why would anyone willingly do that? Best to let the disturbance and the odor out of my life asap.

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        There aren’t speed limit laws for walking on the sidewalk or in the grocery store because it’s dangerous.

        It’s the same reason you can’t ride bikes on the sidewalk in any states that have good sense (NY). Because if you hit a pedestrian going on your bike at 20mph, you can @#*$ing kill them.

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          First of all: Everything is dangerous. If someone was running and ran into you, you might get hurt, maybe badly, unless you get tackled for a living. You can trip and crack your head open all by yourself at any time.

          That said, if you think someone is driving dangerously, there is literally nothing you can do to improve the situation. The best case scenario: you get out of the way, the guy who wanted to get past calms down. Worst case, it’s a crazy person and you get shot for putting the finishing touch on their day.

          You need to accept that you cannot win; you can choose not to take part, or you can make the situation worse.

      • 0 avatar
        993cc

        Tailgating is not the equivalent of “saying excuse me”. Flashing your high beams as you approach from behind would be the equivalent of saying “excuse me”.

        Tailgating is the equivalent of shaking your fist, or giving someone a hefty shove as you walk past, or ramming them with your shopping cart. The tailgater is trying to communicate by threatening your safety.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          The libertarian National Motorists Association (NMA) advocates flashing your left turn signal three times, since in rare cases, the driver in front of you is just not paying attention; less threatening than the flash.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Less threatening, true; also less noticeable. With some vehicles, you wouldn’t even see the turn signal in your rear view mirror simply because they’re below headlight level, which means far below the back window. In daylight, such lamps are near-invisible unless you are looking for them. They’re certainly not attention grabbing to someone not looking in that direction.

            The flash needs to be bright enough to grab the eye of the person in front, which during the day usually means the headlamps themselves. At night, the blinker may be enough, if they’re not overwhelmed by those same headlamps.

  • avatar
    tedward

    The problem highway tailgaters (to me at least) are the drivers who tailgate in any lane they happen to be in, and the ones who tailgate really closely and aggressively. It’s not impolite to squeeze in a little and give a light signal to get someone to move over so long as you are in the leftmost lane, and it’s not impolite to be in the left lane cruise/passing steadily so long as you are willing to move right when another gives the signal. Both drivers should see themselves as allies in the war against the indifferent sheeple who find themselves hated in the left lane and don’t know why. Know thy enemy.

    I think one lane (or two lane no pass) etiquette is to pull over at the first possible chance to let the car behind through. The car following on the other hand has to politely indicate a desire to pass and then back off to let it happen.

    The vast majority of faster drivers do it right from what I see.

  • avatar
    ajla

    A couple days ago I was driving my Allante around when some guy in a little compact Nash from the ’50s pulled up behind me and was honking his horn and kept pace with me even up to 90mph! Then he finally passed me!

    What a dick!

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    I can share a tactic that has worked for me on two lane roads. You get stuck in heavy traffic but some deadhead in a heavily laden van or pickup just has to get past. You let him pass but he doesn’t have a great turn of speed because his whip is not very fast. So you use this against him. Wait for a hill, slow right down, hook second gear and floor it. This works best while oncoming traffic is heavy because overtaking up a blind hill is all in a days work for idiots like these. A long really hill helps with this. It also helps if you have a fast ride because you really want to put some distance between you. If he gets back on your tail there is no telling what might happen.

    By slowing right down, you break his momentum. Mr Tail Gater’s heavily laden vehicle takes a long time to get up to speed. Stuck in second gear at the bottom of a hill means he will be going slow for quite a while. He himself will now be the victim of tailgaters in faster cars who will be passing him. This of course helps you because there is little chance that he will get behind you again.

    All of the above only works under a fairly narrow set of conditions. You need a two lane road with oncoming traffic and a fast car to make your getaway. Your nemesis must be in a slow(ish) vehicle otherwise he will be coming to _really_ get you. With that said it is very, very satisfying to dish out this kind of justice. Ask me how I know that. No, hang on. Maybe not.

  • avatar
    mbardeen

    I live in a long skinny country in South America and I own a ’93 Porsche 968 that I bought cheaply (badly abused) and restored myself. When I drive it here I invariably find that one person that, for some reason, needs to prove somthing to me and tries to get as close to my rear bumper as possible. This happens even if I’m driving on a two lane road following someone who’s moving at a fair clip, or if I’m stuck in city traffic. The yahoos that do this are invariably driving some base model Toyota that costs as much as my rear bumper cover — and that couldn’t afford to fix it if they did crash into it.

    As a result, I tend to only drive it late at night when there are no other drivers on the road. I’d love to find a sure-fire method of discouraging this behavior without pissing them off more.

  • avatar
    jbartolomero

    In Europe, normally a faster driving approaching a slower car will first try an use its left side markers to give the slower guy a hint. If that doesn’t work, we proceed and flash our headlights a couple of times or even insist on them. You see people tailgating but only as a last resource maneouvre.

    When I lived in LA it always amazed me how my classmates would explain me than using your headlights was “rude” while as tailgating was “right”.

    Couldn’t it be that there are easier ways to tell the guy in front of you you want to pass other than sticking your bumper up his ass?

    Just wondering.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    Easy. Tailgating someone who can’t get out of the way (eg., on a 2 lane road or in a long line of traffic on a highway) is bad. If they can get out of the way, give them a reasonable chance to do that. If they don’t and they know you want to get past them, they’re an idiot which is their problem. Unless you have to get to surgery, wait for a chance and then pass when you can. If they then speed up to block you…, well, that deserves another column because that’s the lowest of the low.

    Blocking someone who wants to go faster than you and not making your best effort to get the heck out of the way ASAP is bad. And don’t wait until they tailgate you if you’ve seen them coming. Anticipate and get out of the way. Please don’t use the safety excuse, because you’re creating a more dangerous situation by bunching up traffic and/or causing drivers to needlessly change lanes. If there’s no one in front of you and 1 or more people right behind you, you’re most likely in the wrong and should drop the ego games.

    Bottom line: since this is generally about ego on both sides of the coin, think about this: don’t do anything in your car you wouldn’t be willing to do on the sidewalk (without the protection of your car around you).

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    The most inexplicable tailgaters are those who seem to have an unshakable magnetic attraction to my rear bumper for no apparent reason. This usually happens on open highways and interstates and no amount of speeding up, slowing down, or changing lanes can remove them. This seems to happen to me at least once and often multiple times on road trips. Usually the only solution is to exit and re-enter the highway.

    These remora-like tailgaters never seem to harbor any animosity or have a desire to confront me, they simply want to follow very closely as if they are deathly afraid of not having another car directly in front of them at all times.

    I have a feeling these are the same people who insist on parking right next to you in an otherwise empty parking lot.

    • 0 avatar
      bugmen0t

      This is a phenomena known as “herding”. Some people feel insecure unless there are others *right* around them on the road. Absolutely bizarre.

      What I do, when there’s room, is to move to another lane, watch them slide by – and attach themselves, mindlessly, to the next guy.

      And I agree – this is not the nasty, aggressive contingent of ‘gaiters.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      The “highway buddy”.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/ask-the-best-and-brightest-psychology-of-the-highway-buddy/

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Simplest tactic that ALWAYS works! Leave that cruise control locked at your preferred speed. The typical tailgater is driving by ‘foot’ and rarely is able to maintain a fixed speed for long periods. Slowly that other driver will begin to speed up or slow down, drifting away from that ‘highway buddy’ position. Invariably, they get tired and either resume their old speed or accelerate to pass and move on.

        I’ve never had a ‘highway buddy’ for more than about 10 miles.

  • avatar

    The tailgater is usually not looking more than one car ahead. I’ve driven with folks who crowd every car ahead of them chronically…and they never look to set up the full pack, or clumps, ahead.

    I never tailgate….I don’t trust the guy ahead of me enough.

    Worst than the tailgater, though, is the guy who dawdles, and then when a legal pass opens up, notices you for the first time and floors it. A simple 40/60 pass becomes a stupid 70/90 pass. I call this “The American Pass”.

    Basic racing lesson. Look as far ahead as you can. Plan accordingly.

    • 0 avatar
      Preludacris

      Did a trip this summer with quite a bit of winding, non-divided mountain road. Just superb road really, except for two things: semi trucks and holiday traffic.

      Behind each truck would develop a pack of cars, all vying to get past the truck.

      At each passing lane, a full-on drag race. Everyone just flooring it, speeds up to 150% of the limit were pretty common in the left lane that day. Minivans and all.

      Of course, the passing lanes are on the straighter / wider sections of uphill, so the poor beleaguered truck driver is givin ‘er the beans to keep his momentum.

      Similar effect. Really obnoxious when you’re driving a fun “momentum car.”

      • 0 avatar
        AlternateReality

        “Everyone just flooring it, speeds up to 150% of the limit were pretty common in the left lane that day.”

        I happen to appreciate when people lay on the throttle so that a few more people can get by an obstruction in traffic flow. One of the biggest problems on American roads, as exemplified in this story, is that people either don’t think of, or don’t care about, the people behind them.

  • avatar
    matador

    +1 on looking ahead. Looking back is important, though.

    I drive a ton of different vehicles. One is a loaded down Ford Box Truck. On hills, I never exceed 55-60 MPH. I always look ahead and to the sides so I know where I can go in an emergency. Usually, though, I can head off most problems by looking at the people behind me that are coming up. Usually, you can tell who will tailgate before they come.

    If there’s a fast-moving, non-roadworthy car behind you, prepare for danger. Or anything newer and German…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Little known law of physics:

    “The fastest car is always at the back of the line”.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thomas ;

    You can aggravate me any time ~ depending on what vehicle I’m driving I’ll either pull right or leave you in my dust .

    -Nate

    BEEP-BEEP ! (the car in my avatar is the one in the song and it’s been radar clocked @ 83PH)

  • avatar
    myheadhertz

    Some cars just invite tailgating. I had a ’71 restored VW Super Beetle. Tailgating was a constant problem even on low speed city streets. There could be 30 cars in front of me in the right lane and some jackass would be riding my back bumper, mad as hell, because IIIIIIII was the one slowing him down! Sold that VW about 3 years ago. Good riddance!

    I’ll bet a cosmetically challenged, ex cop, Crown Vic would not have much of a problem with tailgating.

    • 0 avatar
      Preludacris

      Could have been my over-active imagination, but when I borrowed a friend’s minivan for a few days, I felt like I was being tailgated significantly more than in my own coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      Someone in my neighborhood drives a Super Beetle and while it never bothers me, I can attest to the fact that the world moves at a snail’s pace behind that car.

      The owner seemed to have a problem doing above 20 on our 35-limit roads here so I assumed there was some reason for it, but then I saw the guy doing 55 in a 45… It doesn’t bother me, just confusing is all.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Taking a Super Beetle on today’s highways is just suicide by Wolfsburg.

        Had a ’73.

        • 0 avatar
          myheadhertz

          You speak the truth.

          But, it was better than a cute puppy as a means to meet women. Pull into any super market parking lot and BAM! “Oh! I just LOVE your car!

          When I put the VW on Craig’s list, mostly women called about it. I did not let any of them even come to look at the car. The Beetle was simple as hell to work on, but something ALWAYS needed attention.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Sounds like you owned yours more recently, when they were no longer ubiquitous and had become a novelty again.

            I got mine new after my ’66 1300 and several others in the family. They were so common back then that they drew absolutely no attention at all.

            After enough scares due to the abysmal power and toy brakes I got rid of it and never looked at another VW although I was fairly smitten with the first generations of Jettas, particularly that little notchback sedan.

      • 0 avatar

        The world only seems like it is moving slower. Its all the unburned gas fumes making you high.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    If a tailgater seems more inattentive than aggressive, flicking parking lights on and off can wake him up.

  • avatar
    roadscholar

    Wanna scare the shit out of a tailgater without any risk of injury or damage? This has to be done on a two-lane road with no traffic behind you. Whip over to the other lane as fast as physically possible and slam on the brakes, hard. Then, once the tailgater goes by, whip over behind him, again as fast as physically possible and, here’s the kicker, keep a 2 second minimum following distance or even a little more. You’ll laugh your head off as you watch the tailgater fixate on the rearview mirror in terror waiting for you to do something crazy. Just follow at a safe distance and enjoy the show. Messing with people’s minds is so much fun.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      I’ve heard better. A buddy of mine worked with a guy that literally rammed a tailgaiter off the road. Even better, the guy got away with it. Something to think about, the guy you might be tailgating could very well be a sociopath.

      As for me, its a non-issue. Fail to keep a proper following distance and you have to pay for it in some form the least being a ticket and more than likely increased insurance rates for bad driving due to repair bills, medical costs and possibly more.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    It seems many here are tailgated by a lack of social training.

  • avatar
    Marko

    I have nothing to prove by playing games with a tailgater. Their problem, not mine. I always stay as far right as possible and move right ASAP – I start to signal if I’m still in the process of passing. If they want to go 100 and get a ticket, I will definitely let them! If they hit my bumper, once again, their problem, not mine! There are much more important things for me to worry about, especially on the road ahead.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    Another reason manual transmissions are better – shift and let the engine slow you down without brake lights.

    They almost always back off after that.

  • avatar
    CarGal

    I let them pass. It’s not worth risking my ride because someone behind me is a bad driver.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Tailgating can also be a bad habit. When I travel through Vancouver BC or any other big city, tailgating is endemic.

    My approach to tailgating depends on the situation. I often will drive like I’m pulling a trailer. I gradually slow down to give myself room in front to allow more gradual braking if I need to stop. I also plan an escape route if there is a sudden traffic stoppage.

    I do not “hog” the centre “fast” or “passing” lane but will use it to let a tailgater go by if they are intent on staying in the “slow” lane. I will speed up if safe to do so and move into the “fast” lane to put another vehicle between me and the tailgater.

    I seldom see tailgating in the “country” but it does occur. If I do see traffic closing in on me or it looks like they will “pile up” behind me, I will speed up enough to give them room until I hit a passing lane to let them by. I will do the same when reaching a straight stretch of road, if they want to go fast – no point keeping them behind you.
    It also serves the purpose of letting them run “rabbit” for the police and their radar guns.
    It can be frustrating and unnerving but as other bloggers have pointed out, “do not take it personal”.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    My grandmother would become enraged when someone tailgated her. She would start breathing heavy and grinding her teeth, and finally she would just slow down until the idiot passed by. She always drove over the speed limit, so the tailgater had no real reason to tailgate in the first place. One time, my sister and I were riding with her, and some guy in a Falcon got so close my sister and I totally expected him to hit us. Grandma got seriously pissed and after she slowed to about 10MPH, just stopped. He started honking at us, and grandma waved him around, and he finally went by, flipping us off. When we got to the restaurant we were going to, there he was, getting out of the Falcon. Grandma jumped out of the car and ran up to him and got up in his face, screaming, “I have my grandkids in the car with me, and you’re giving me the finger??”. He just opened and closed his mouth a few times, and she continued to yell at him for a couple of minutes. She was cherry red, and at the end of her tirade, she started poking him in the chest. He finally said, “Stop!”, and she did, then started up again. He yelled, “Stop! Grandma didn’t stop this time, she kept poking him and asking, over and over “How are you going to make me, tough guy?”. He finally decided he needed to eat someplace else, and backed away and jumped into his Falcon and took off. We went inside and grandma acted like nothing at all had happened. Grandma was kind of scary, so I don’t blame him.

    • 0 avatar

      Your last name isn’t Kreutzer, is it?

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        OMG I love that story!

        She and my Mom were from the same stock. Utterly fearless and possessed of a stony backhand that struck like a cobra for any old reason at all. Anywhere, any time at all.

        There was only one instance where I remember an argument that scaled up to possible domestic violence between Mom and Dad. At its peak Mom grabbed a rolling pin, squared off and essentially told Dad “Bring It”. Dad walked away to cool off. Yay, Mom and Dad.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          German women can be a scary lot, I’ve got one for a mother

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Once, when I was about four I saw my mom slap a cop with his ticket book for giving her a parking ticket so close to Christmas

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Once Adolf had them mesmerized, could any German man stand up to his Hausfrau’s fanaticism?

            Ditto for the Southern women during and after the Civil War. Jeff Davis had half a million Morale Officers at home.

            Most vicious, right wing whackjob I ever met was an elderly woman high in state Republican circles who I saw go no-sh*t apoplectic at the mere mention of JFK. 15 minute tirade of half-suppressed profanity ensued. For her generation and stratum, profanity to a stranger was unthinkably declasse.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I lived in Atlanta for 25 years, I’ve met my share of steel magnolias

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            They’re everywhere. Only the language or accent changes.

            Now have Tigah-Mom!

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    What’s the consensus on back roads?

    There’s a real nice back road ’round here that yes, I admit, I have NEVER driven the speed limit on…but I always slow down in inclement weather and back the f**k off when there’s a slow driver in front of me, even if it makes me angry enough to punt a puppy.

    Am I still a d-bag, then?

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      No.
      The rarely traveled back roads are a better place to do this (within reason) than the crowded suburban streets. And you are being respectful of drivers with a different agenda.
      My favourite roads are in the Adirondack mountains in the off season. Trying to drive fast around Ottawa? What would be the point? The roads are so flat and straight they’re boring at any speed.

  • avatar

    as the victim i’ve been known to do all of the above, except throwing back road debris, that’s just mean.

    as the perpetrator, in Brazil a short headlight flick usually suffices. If not, i pass on the right and get on.

    We also use hand gestures. If the situation doesn’t allow getting out of the way, the helpless palm up gesture is good. If that doesn’t calm them down, a circular movement with the index finger clearly indicating my opinion gets the message across. Finally, on a two lane, a gesture is used. It’s kind of a challenge, but can be fun. Palm down, you move your hand as if going over a bump. It indicates, ‘pass over me’.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I’m a big fan of using the driver side mirror to reflect a tailgater’s headlights into his (her?) face. It’s always worked, they passed me and moved on to inflict their petty aggression on someone else.

    Oh, for a law that allows you 2 a**hole kills per month. Such a low number would encourage judiciousness.

  • avatar
    Bearadise

    Always fun to activate my windshield washer when being tailgated. The spray over my roof always gets ‘em excited. That being said, if you’re just one of the cars in the left lane in a line of cars, tailgaiting is futile. But if you’re the FIRST car in that line and there’s open road in front of you, then you are the reason for the tailgaiting. Get the hell back over to the right lane.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    A few days ago I was steadily passing traffic in the passing lane and being tailgated. Not too much of a problem until this happened. A commuter bus in the HOV lane did not look and cut me off, it was going about 10mph slower than me and less than a car distance from me when it moved over with very little warning. My car has VERY powerful brakes so I was safe. The tailgater, I thought, would be fine to as they had a Subaru WRX that should have good brakes to… but I realized he was now very close and looked alarmed. After the bus moved over again to get off the highway I accelerated passed the bus, I gave the bus drive a good blast an the horn and moved on, WRX when a bit nuts, flashing lights, horn blasts and the WRX twitching all over from the hand gestures. I found a place to move right and let the jerk in the WRX go and annoy someone else, as they passed I saw they had a space saver wheel on the front. We were all lucky and the driver of that WRX needs to be punched in the face…
    People, those space saver wheels are NOT safe and are NOT suitable for aggressive driving.

  • avatar
    Ron in WA

    People have told me about two tailgating incidents. One was a young friend who was driving a beatup old Mustang at the time. This was maybe 20 years ago. He said a BMW of some sort was following him very close on a multi-lane road in the evening. Little other traffic around. He finally got really irritated and slammed on his brakes as hard as he could. He said that given his car he didn’t really care if he got hit. He said the other driver practically turned himself inside out to keep from hitting him. Then stayed way away.

    The other guy was an old engineer I worked with maybe 30 years ago. He had had a job in somewhat rural Texas with a morning commute on a two lane road. Busy but traffic would normally travel at or above the speed limit. Then an old guy with a very old car started driving every morning in the direction of the commute very slow, maybe 25 mph. This went on for a week or more accompanied by considerable upset. One morning an acquaintance of his, driving a large pickup, happened behind the slow-poke. My acquaintance said the pickup driver pushed the slow guy down the road at 60 mph. Supposedly slow poke looked suitably terrified. And never showed up again.

    Rough justice. I am glad I wasn’t there.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Ok Ron, I have to ask: Was that old engineer guy named Bob, last initial M? I got the same story from the same kind of person almost EXACTLY 30 years ago in Tennessee. In that case, the truck just happened to have a couple of railroad ties mounted to the front as a push bar.

      • 0 avatar
        Ron in WA

        “Ok Ron, I have to ask: Was that old engineer guy named Bob, last initial M? I got the same story from the same kind of person almost EXACTLY 30 years ago in Tennessee. In that case, the truck just happened to have a couple of railroad ties mounted to the front as a push bar.

        Vulpine, I don’t think he was Bob M. He was a bomber pilot who just missed the end of WWII. Then in Seattle, he was an excellent engineer. I think he was quite tickled with the story from Texas. Sounds like that story got around.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Variations, but yeah, the story got around. Bob’s story was an account of a backup that started shortly after quitting time at a power plant in Alabama. All the employees would rush to get on the highway to avoid the backup which would develop shortly after. The quicker out the door, the more likely you would miss it.
          The protagonist missed the mark by only a fraction one day as a car pulled out of a schoolyard and proceeded to poke along at 25mph for the full five miles into the nearest town (remember, this was his story). He honked his horn, flashed his lights, everything possible to convince the driver to speed up–to no avail. Oncoming traffic was such that passing was impossible. Once into town, the car would turn off, but it would take an hour or more for the backup to clear.
          The next day, our protagonist stayed at the shop to work on a project–bringing in two railroad ties and doing the metalwork to build a push bar and mount it to the front of his truck. When he completed it, he resumed his race to get out early waiting for his chance to be the first car behind the slow one. About a month later, he got ‘lucky’ and was again pinned. After honking and flashing his lights several times, again to no avail, he eased in close, planted that wood against the bumper and started pushing.
          The driver rode the brakes and did everything possible to slow down again, but he pushed her up to the speed limit and kept it there all the way into town, whereupon he backed off. When the other car pulled into a parking lot, he followed. An (old) lady got out of the car and ran into the store to call the police. She told them about ‘minding my own business and this big mean truck shoved me for miles!” Our protagonist explained his situation at which point the policeman hmmed.

          “We’d been wondering why there was always this long line of traffic at just this time, but we’d never been able to figure out why. Go on home, you’re clear.” The policeman then proceeded to ticket the woman for driving too slow and obstructing traffic.

          From that day on, the backup disappeared.

          That was Bob M’s story. Bob was the plant engineer for a manufacturing plant when he told me that story. (I was Maintenance Purchasing.)

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I love poetic justice!!

            There is an onramp from the Ohio Turnpike a half-mile before my exit on I-75, and most days, for whatever reason, the idiots coming off of there use that stretch as a deceleration lane to my exit–lines of cars and trucks doing 50mph (and sometimes LESS) in a posted 65. There’s a cut-through where the Ohio Highway Patrol and the locals do speed patrol, but they could do even better writing up “impeding traffic flow”–it’d be like shooting fish in a barrel!

  • avatar
    lonborghini

    “We all know how it feels when a tailgater slides up behind.” No i don’t really know what it’s like Tom. If you find tailgaters to be a recurrent problem you might consider that your driving is the problem. I would suggest that you increase your speed and/or keep in right lane. By the way you don’t have three rear view mirrors. The mirror inside the car is your rear view mirror. The two mirrors on the outside of the car are side view mirrors. You really have no reason to see your rear fenders in your side view mirrors. Move them out far enough so that where the view in your rear view mirror ends, the view in your side view mirror begins. What do you know; no more blind spot. I’ve just improved your driving skills by approximately 100 percent. You’re welcome. It was nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Were you being sarcastic lon? Because it seemed like you were being sarcastic.

      Because if you were trying to be helpful, then that was a really sweet comment, but if you were being sarcastic, then you were being kind of a meanie.

      In Canada, we always try to be polite to everyone, even homicidal road maniacs and Americans.

      Perhaps you can clarify.

      Sincerely,

      Confused in Calgary

      • 0 avatar
        lonborghini

        Slightly sarcastic, perhaps, but my advice is sincere. If we move with the flow of traffic or faster and keep right except to pass we rarely acquire a tailgater. I tend to drive considerably faster than the flow of traffic when i have an open lane ahead of me. As a result i never get tailgated and rarely get passed. When traffic appears in my lane i immediately slow down by removing my lead foot from the go pedal and try to roll up behind slower vehicles without touching the brake pedal. Brakes are for stopping, not slowing down. If a faster vehicle does come up behind me, i signal a lane change and move over as soon as possible.
        Regarding side view mirrors, probably at least ninety percent of drivers don’t know how to properly adjust and use them. Thanks for asking.

  • avatar
    smalldog

    My Father had a small plane and an old VW Rabbit TDI hatch. He lived in the deep south, drove a lot of rural roads, and he drove at the speed limit, but he often got tailgated anyway, mostly by trucks with their headlights right at rear view mirror level. So he installed an aircraft landing light on the back deck. The thing sucked enough juice to practically kill the poor car’s electrical system, but it was blinding, even in day light. All it took was a few seconds of it being switched on and the tailgaters would back off.

  • avatar
    GoCougs

    I drive in one of the most congested areas in the US, and 95% of the tailgating I see/do, is understandable if not warranted – primarily that is lane camping, not doing the speed limit, and not keeping with the pace of traffic.

    So, to the OP, whatever it is you’re doing to endanger your safety and impede traffic, stop doing it. Also have to lol at the all the passive wimpy “payback” methods. Ha, ha, get a life you turkeys and drive like a Normal Person.

  • avatar

    Arriving in Buffalo, New York yesterday from Toronto (having arrived there from Saskatchewan earlier in the day by air) I experienced exactly this sort of tailgatng on I-190 near downtown Buffalo late yesterday afternoon. Thomas, was that you? :)

    Seriously, it sure is annoying but at least when I am on a vacation trip, I can let it go. It’s a lot more annoying when the tension of daily life is right there with you.

    Live from Cheektowaga,

    Jim

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      You went to Buffalo for a VACATION???

      WHO DOES THAT?

      I’m not one to talk. I was born there, God help me.

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        Seriously. Lived for 2 years in Buffalo/Amherst and I was constantly going to Canada to get away.

        That said, from what I know of Saskatchewan, maybe Buffalo IS a good vacation.

        • 0 avatar
          993cc

          I’ve never been to SK, but people from there who I know speak of it fondly. Folks from Buffalo? Not so much. The Albright Knox isn’t bad, though. And a good zoo.
          AND let’s not forget Niagara Falls, described by Oscar Wilde as “the young bride’s second biggest disappointment.”

          • 0 avatar
            Kaosaur

            Buffalo ain’t so bad. Other than Western New Yorkers’ tendency to froth at the mouth a bit about ‘downstaters’ and an undying devotion to things that are really mediocre (Bills, Sabres, Mighty Taco, local theatre, Duffs), they’re incredibly hearty and hardworking people. I meet Buffalonians all over in my travels and we usually end up friends.

            The landscape and the local economy are super bleak and the local entertainment compares well with the Soviet Union (good skiing, bad everything else), but at least twice a year I think about moving there again.

            I had a lot of fun living there, even though they were the two most overworked, underpaid, underfed years of my life.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I like Buffalo, I’ve got family there and spent a lot of vacation time around there. I never get tired of going to Niagra Falls or up to Toronto for a couple of days

          • 0 avatar
            993cc

            My Grandmother lived a few blocks from the falls, so lots of visits to the area for me too, but always Thanksgiving or Easter. November and April are not the prime months in Western N.Y.
            I was thirty years old before I went on the Maid Of The Mist. What a blast! (And by the way, if you ever do this, refuse the rain jacket. Go for the full soak.)

    • 0 avatar

      Hah! I took the family up to Toronto today and the traffic was worse than Tokyo! I was actually scared there a few times…

  • avatar
    mkirk

    All this nonsense is why I just drive drunk on the sidewalk.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’m loving all the comments .

    The last two days I’ve been out on a Road Rally , even in the middle of nowhere I had tailgater and road hogger problems ~ I was driving my old Mercedes Diesel Coupe and keeping the throttle pinned as much as I could because it takes time to wind it up to what I consider proper road speeds .

    One @$$hat on The Sunrise Highway in his spiffy new white Pickup Truck , I saw him coming a long ways behind and moved to the right , he followed me quite a while about 8 car lengths back before suddenly passing me on a blind corner to the right , just after a miles long straight passing lane , what an @$$hole .

    Other @$$hats parked two left wheels on the yellow line and went slightly below the posted speed limit in the curvy bits , this blocks the view so even when a passing lane came up I couldn’t accelerate fast enough to make use of it 1/2 the time .

    I knew two different guys in the 1970′s who installed small tanks of waste oil and electric pumps into their vans , plumbed the tank to the exhaust so when anyone tailgated , they got blasted with dense stinky oil smoke and droplets . it turns out the used ATF works best for this , a bit too aggressive for my taste .

    The 4″ loading light mounted underneath the bed of any pickup truck works very well indeed , just remember to also install a tattle tale dash lamp or use an illuminated switch sop you don’t forget and leave it on .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    If you’re being tailgated, you can take a picture with your phone and then call the police. The sad part is, you not only can’t see the license plate when he’s too close, you’ll be ticketed for using the phone while driving.


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  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States