Running a car

How to: deal with tailgaters

4 min read • Oct 31, 2018
tailgating

Most of us have had to deal with tailgaters. Whether we’ve been driving for 2 days or 20 years, there always seems to be other drivers who just don’t like being behind us. Drivers who tailgate can be intimidating, but knowing how to deal with them is the first step to staying safe on the roads.

The most annoying driving habit?

Insurance firm Admiral found – in a poll of more than 3,000 people – that the most annoying driving habit, with 74% of the votes, was tailgating. So, not only do we find it annoying, but we also see a lot of it on our roads. As a driver, you can’t change your fellow motorists’ habits but you can learn how to react to certain behaviours.

Types of tailgaters

Not all tailgaters are the same. Whilst some are intent on passing you, others simply don’t think about leaving a reasonable distance, and there are ways to deal with both kinds.

Aggressive tailgating

This is the kind of driver that comes out of nowhere and sits at your bumper looking downright angry at your road presence. Your first thought might be to speed up, increasing the space and placating them, but you should do the opposite.

If you speed up, the chances are that the tailgater is likely to speed up too, staying right behind you. In this case, the only thing which will have changed is your speed, putting you at an even greater risk. Instead, slow down, increasing the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. This way, if there is an accident, it won’t be at high speed.

When it comes to aggressive tailgaters, you should also avoid retaliating, even if you can see them gesticulating at you. Simply ignore them, and if you’re in a safe place to do so, pull over and let them pass.

The oblivious tailgater

Some tailgaters drive too closely simply because they’re not paying enough attention. This kind of tailgater has no intention of passing you, and is often quite happy trundling along at the same speed as you. Again, you should slow down. Don’t slam your brakes on in annoyance, because this could cause an accident. Simply lift your foot off the accelerator to gradually decrease your speed.

The oblivious tailgater is often unaware of what they’re doing, but you might find slowing down increases the distance between you and them, as they’re more likely to take the hint than the aggressive tailgater.

If you think the vehicle behind you is too close, slow down gradually at junctions and traffic lights. Sharp braking may take them by surprise and they could go into the back of your car.

Coping with impatient motorists as a learner driver

Although most motorists are patient and considerate when it comes to learners, there are a few impatient drivers who don’t display the same courtesy.

Dealing with tailgaters can be difficult for new drivers, but the same rules apply. Slow down, stay calm and continue to drive at a safe speed. Keep your eyes on the road ahead of you, and don’t let them distract you.

Remember they were a learner driver once too, even if they don’t seem to remember that themselves!

Image courtesy of dsagovuk @ Flickr via Crown Copyright.

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