Dealing With State Side Tailgaters

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Road trips can be so much fun. Seeing new places and meeting new people. As the weather warms up we will find more people on the road. This includes tailgaters. That driver who leaves no room for sudden stops, who never let’s anyone over, and drives so close, you can see their green eyes in your rear view mirror.

Although there is nothing that we can do to prevent tailgaters, there are some things that we can do when it happens.  First thing we need to do is remain calm. Getting emotional does nothing to solve the problem. If you are like most drivers, you are already traveling 5mph over the speed limit.  Simply turn on your hazards and let your vehicle coast to the speed limit. The combination of the blinking lights and the reduction in speed is usually enough to make people go around.

What if we are following someone, at the speed limit, and we have a tailgater?  Once again, don’t freak out. Turn on the hazards and reduce your speed. In most states, a driver can drive 10 under the speed limit without getting a ticket. Slamming on the brakes is not advisable.  However, I have geared down for a school zone once.   Yes the guy behind me slammed on his brakes, spilt his coffee, and yelled expletives at me. He sped around me as soon as we left the school zone never to be seen again.

So how much space is needed? At minimum 2 seconds. Take a moment and count how long it takes you to reach a point that the vehicle in front of you just passed. I like to use the broken lines to count this. As the wheel of the vehicle in front of me passes a dotted line I begin to count…

One Mississippi, two Mississippi.

At this moment I should be passing that point. If I reach that spot before I say the last Mississippi, I need to slow down. It’s at this point that I would like to say “use your head”. If you are more than two seconds behind someone, then for the love of jelly beans don’t speed up. Unless there is a valid reason for speeding up, maintain that legal speed limit.

Slowing down and turning the hazards on is by far the safest way to alleviate the situation. In the end, that is what counts; safety. OBTW cops are attracted to hazard lights, and tailgating is a quick road to a ticket. 🙂


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