posted 4 years ago

Opinion: Why I Hate Tailgaters

Is your journey so important that you have to force me off the road?

Let’s face it, driving in the 21st century is stressful. It seems no motorway journey can be completed without being delayed by roadworks, rush hour is a daily test of patience, and the opportunity to enjoy a quiet drive down an empty country lane feels like a distant dream.

But the single most stressful thing for me about modern driving is tailgating. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t encounter a new fool intent on driving me off the road to save themselves a few precious seconds – or to satisfy some kind of aggressive competitive instinct.

If this behaviour was confined to motorways, I could almost put up with it.  After all, the modern motorway has become a kind of daredevil carousel in which we all egg each other on to drive at higher and higher speeds.

Bumper to bumper 

What really worries me is that the most common place for me to encounter tailgating is when I’m within a few hundred metres of home – in a busy, built-up area with no shortage of children, bikes and pets waiting to dart out into the road.

By far the worst area is a long, straight and wide stretch of road that runs right through this residential area.  Even though it’s clearly a 30mph zone – with houses and parked cars right along it – some drivers seem unable to resist the feeling that it’s a dual carriageway in disguise. 

So, speeds of 40 and even 50mph are commonly seen – and woe betide the law-abiding motorist, like me, who attempts to stick to the speed limit.  This is viewed by the tailgater as an aggressive act in itself; cue bumper to bumper tailgating and ludicrous high speed over-taking.  To achieve what, I’m not sure, as at the end of this stretch of road is a traffic light junction that will soon stop the tailgaters in their tracks.

Uncomfortable situation

In case you’re wondering, I promise you that I am not one of those annoying drivers who deliberately drive under the speed limit. However, as the mother of two children, I am acutely aware of the dangers of speeding – especially in suburban areas – and so refuse to exceed the speed limit, even with an impatient tailgater hassling behind me.

This, though, is the dilemma.  By sticking to the speed limit, I am putting myself under considerable stress as the driver behind stays close on my tail – trying to force me to go faster.   It’s a very uncomfortable situation and one which is proven to cause accidents: official figures say tailgating is the cause of up to third of all serious accidents, and 14% of road casualties.

So what is the best thing to do in this situation? This was the question at the top of my list when I attended a speed awareness course last year (confession: yes, like most of us I have exceeded the speed limit on the odd occasion). 

The answer was two-fold: to avoid being dragged into the tailgater’s aggression and to get out of the situation – safely – as soon as you can.  In my case, this means I will now routinely pull over to let the tailgater past.  It doesn’t mean they’ve ‘won’; it just means I can continue with my journey without the burden of their stress.

Take a deep breath

To all you tailgaters out there – and you know who you are – here’s a plea: please take a deep breath and take your foot off the pedal.  The reduced stress could put years on your life and – more importantly – could save someone else’s.

·      To find out more about safe driving distance, here is advice from the Highways Agency – and a useful video highlighting that many motorists simply aren’t aware of how much space they need to leave between them and the car in front.

Have you experienced tailgating – or do you deliberately drive too close to the vehicle in front? Tell us what you think.


@Phil Sansom no its not the tailgated drivers fault, the best chance of getting by someone does not come from sitting on their bumper, except occasionally & very briefly, "a transient close following position in preparation for overtaking" The method of dealing with tailgaters is to Drive sensibly and dump them as soon as possible. This can be by facilitating them overtaking, you, moving to a left hand lane or overtaking yourself - many tailgaters are very bad at overtaking so if you can safely overtake the car in front then you'll lose them.

Whilst I can agree with most of what has been written on this I can't help but feel that it generally is the result of others who do not understand or refuse to recognise lane discipline on multiple lane carriageways or feel it is their responsibility to control others speed by being an obstruction by turning all carriageways into singles. Stay on the left side lane until you have a reason to move into the next adjacent lane then move back into the left lane on completion of that manouver don't squat in lanes that you should not be in if the left one is clear!!!!!!

Tail-gating in a 30 mph area is poor form but in some way understandable as last government and its communistic car hating Labour councils slowed down road transport and commerce of our country by adding islands, chicanes and narrowing roads even on designated 60 mph roads they added restrictions making passing impossible and unsafe in many places, with these restrictions someone driving at 30 mph in a 40 mph area soon has a tail of cars and trucks queued behind them slowing down deliveries and people going to and from work, this makes people take risks, so if you feel that you do not have the confidence to drive at the designated road speed just move over where its safe to do so, and let three or four vehicles go passed, you will be thanked for it. Having regularly driven well over 100.000 miles a year for years I have seen a lot of bad driving, and some of the worst are those drivers who do not look into the rear view mirror every fifteen seconds or so, especially on motorways where a vehicle travelling just 20 mph faster than you, can be within yards of your boot lid in just a few seconds if you are not regularly watching the mirror in order to move over and let faster traffic pass. This type of driver proceeds in a world of their own at a speed where they are comfortable holding up many other drivers who want to get passed, when they wake up and notice a vehicle trying to pass they complain about tail gating, so I would suggest if you are being tail gated on a by-pass or motorway you are not watching the rear view mirror and are driving inconsiderately to those around you, that's why you are being tail-gated.

i am a hgv driver of over 35 years in that time i've made my fair share of mistakes over the years like many of us who drive for a living i've noticed this dangerous low skilled driving bumper to bumper crackpot driving this type of driving is the pits and is worse than speeding 'yet these same dummies can't park a car or reverse a truck i'm not a on the limit driver ether but its getting fxxking stupid out there.

I don't approve of tailgating especially on single track roads but but understand drivers get frustrated when cars leave a 30 zone and enter 60 zone (yes that white circle with black diagonal line means 60) and they carry on doing 30 as I'm sure many don't know what that sign means. There are enough restrictions so when the road opens up so should the speed. Instead large tailbacks happen and people start taking chances overtaking, but maybe they take joy in frustrating other drivers or they cannot drive and should stick to buses. Also on motorways more should be done to fine drivers who fail to move over to the left and if they do they only move to the central lane even though trucks are undertaking them. Motorways would flow much more freely if drivers drove in the correct lane. I have even seen police cars behind drivers with full flashing lights and they still don't move. It would help if it was compulsory for drivers to pass an additional test on motorway driving. So all you drivers that have a driver up your backside, think to yourself, am I at fault because I'm in the wrong lane and should be driving in that empty lane to my left.

I wish I could put a sign in my back window saying "The closer you get the slower I will go"! To add to the misery when tailgated at night you get a rear window full of the supposedly "safer" modern brighter headlights that in my opinion just increase glare to all other road users and thus are actually more dangerous. What comes over us when we get in our little tin boxes!

It doesn't matter what car you drive to get tailgating. My hobby sports car gets to 60 in well under 5 secs but because of my age I mainly stick to speed limits.The solution-if a tailgater is on my tail I drive very slowly on the twisty bits and out accelerate them on the straights. I try to judge my speed so I am driving slow enough for them to want to overtake but fast enough that they can't.This really p***es them off.However if a car catches my up but maintains a safe distance behind me I pull over to allow them to overtake.

Time and time again I find myself following a tailgator frequently dabbing on his brakes because he is too close to the vehicle ahead of him. Nine times out of ten when I see his brake lights come on all I have to do is lift off the throttle. These dangerous idiots don't seem to realize how much fuel the are wasting not to mention wearing out their brakes. I would like to see more prosecutions for this offence and well publicised ones too/

This society of ours falls over itself to find fashionable labels for things to make them seem almost cuddly in comparison with what they really are. Terrorism is really conspiracy to commit multiple murder and then carrying out. Tailgating is nothing more or less than downright bad manners being taken to a very dangerous level. Most unpleasant things in our society come down to bad manners of one sort or another including the "isms"; racism, sexism, ageism and so forth. The motive for the pig-ignorant practice of tailgating is more likely intimidation than merely wanting to cut a few seconds off the journey time. The perp is using his car like bandits use guns - waving them around and making lots of noise because they need their victims to be afraid of them in order to boost their own self-esteem. Such psychological tricks indicate a maladjusted personality so it is interesting that our police should be increasingly using such tactics. Tearing myself away from para-military bandit-like behaviour back to tailgating, it is probably safer when on the motorway to pull over and let them through but on the sort of streets described by the author of the article above where, like on other roads, the speed limit is the maximum and often driving at even half the limit is still too fast for the prevailing conditions, it does the residents and pedestrians and other motorists a really big favour not to pull over and let the pigs rush through but to force them to drive at a sensible speed wherever possible.

According to surveys tailgaters are one of the top hated acts of driving, but the problem we have is that these people who tailgate are not intelligent people and do not seem to know that if you have to do an emergency stop that they will not have the time or distance to react and will end up rear ending you, maybe part of the driving test should now include an intelligence test. I get tailgated on a regular basis simply because I abide by the speed limits and when being tailgated I either slow down causing great anger to the unintelligent idiot doing it to me or I sometimes keep braking again at the anger of the unintelligent ( men & women ) idiots.

the highway code has he answer..... drive at a speed within which you can stop safely without hitting the car in front or being hit by the car behind....if tailgated, slow down to the safe (and highly annoying) speed then slowly get back to your "driving" speed..... the worst one I ever had involved 5 "slowings"... he eventually kept his distance and we continued at 60mph

National Sport of France! Funnily enough, except on motorways!

Ignore them as best you can. If anything should happen, they are always at fault as they should be able to stop before hitting you.

What I do with these idiots is pull over if you can and let them pass. With a bit of luck you'll pass them a few miles up the road in a ditch. If I can't pull over I slow gradually down until they are at a safe distance for the speed we are both travelling at. If they get more up tight so be it, I feel safe and they are going to be even more late for whatever it is that they are so impatient to get to.

I just carry on in my own sweet way and at the speed I'm travelling, as if they're not actually behind me. In most cases I find that the aggressor eventually backs off because they realise that I am not going to join in with their stupid 'fun'. The place to play games is on a race track; not the public roads. So to minimise stress, my advice is: don't respond.

I recently had front & back cameras installed in my car and hey ho whilst there are still tailgaters, the majority of them back-off after sighting the camera. Coincidence or not?

Agree entirely but lane discipline on motorways in UK is appalling, 5 lanes all filled with people doing 65. You can drive from Italy through germany france all the way on 2 lane motorways and everyone pulls over to allow those wishing to travel faster to go ahead. Only UK has drivers who are more interested in preventing others from progressing and refuse to pull over when there is no reason not to do so.

Just keep touching your brake,the brake lights will soon annoy the idiot.Better still a sign on your rear screen that reads, MY INSURANCE IS GOOD ARE YOUR BRAKES.

A nice idea Philip. Unfortunately politeness disappeared from use at around the same time people went to work in bowler hats and wore a carnation in their suit lapel. The majority of the population are now arrogant, rude morons.

I've read that in Germany it isn't considered obnoxious to flash cars in your way that should be in the slow lane. In fact it can be considered a polite gesture. Perhaps this is a mentality we should adopt in the UK...

I slow right down and when they go for the overtake I floor it (I have a Scirocco chipped up to 380BHP and it has 350lb/ft of torque (slightly less than a Lambourghini Gallardo) so no-one has got past me as yet

It's not dash cams we need, it's rear bumper cams

A good article highlighting another example of the deliberate political neglect of road safety and government ministers colluding with the Jeremy Clarkson school of motoring.Tailgaters have the mentality of naughty toddlers but they're a lot more dangerous.

I was tailgated this morning by (surprise, surprise) a white van. For some reason the driver got quite vexed when I slowed down to 20mph.

A quick brake light flash does it for me..

I usually slow right down and often the tailgater gets the message and falls back.