Dear Tailgater

The closer you are to my rear bumper, the slower I go.

This is not done merely to annoy you (that’s just a bonus). This is a safety issue.

See, if you are right on my tail, and if I have to brake for any reason, then your car will subsequently, almost inevitably, rear-end my car. Thus the slower I am travelling, then the slower your car is travelling, which means that the rear-end crash will do both my car and my neck much less damage.

This also means that both of us should be able to drive our cars away from the crash rather than having to be towed, although I really hope you won’t do that before giving me your insurance details. What a pity about your no-claims bonus.

‘Cos if your car ends up rear-ending mine, I only want a fender-bender, not your engine block next to my ear.

Love and kisses


P.S. Black muscle cars are really kinda 80s

Categories: Life

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20 replies

  1. I don’t buy it.
    Assuming a rear-end collision, if you make a sudden stop, the car behind will do more damage if there’s a greater difference in velocity. If you must be in a rear-end collision, you’d much prefer it to be you travelling at 40km/h and the other car at 50km/h, rather than you stopped and the other car travelling at 40.
    Of course leaving a greater distance makes it less likely that there’d be a collision at all, but you know.

  2. I meant slowing down gradually, not suddenly, while being tailgated. Any sudden stop in that situation would be an emergency stop, which are of course more likely when one’s attention is distracted to the rear vision mirror rather than the road in front.
    That the limit is 60kmh does not make 60kmh a mandatory speed (or a challenge to be overcome), and is certainly not always advisable even when legal. I tend to do 50kmh on most suburban streets unless they’re decently broad thoroughfares, and on narrow residential streets I do 40kmh in case a kid or a pet suddenly darts out (which would require an emergency stop).
    This morning, as happens reasonably often, I was tailgated while doing 50kmh. So I (gradually) slowed down to 40, not least because it was the commuter hour, when pedestrians suddenly appear. I could have had to stop suddenly at that crossing that’s right next to the shrubs, where you can’t see them coming.
    When I took my planned turnoff, the muscle car revved off at 60 (if not 70) again. Down to a red light. Numpty.

  3. Oh yes, I agree entirely about the safety aspect of speed, and I think we’re similar drivers in that regard. Perhaps the only difference is that I like to slow in front of tailgaters more because I’m not a very nice person, and I find vicarious pleasure in other people’s traffic frustration.
    So, tailgater behind my Yamaha: yes, it is done merely to annoy you. Suck it up.

  4. Dear People Who Beep If I Don’t Turn Left Into Pedestrians,
    if you can’t deal emotionally with the stress of driving and waiting occasionally for others – catch the bus – you’ll live longer.

  5. I’ve been looking for a bumper stick that concisely portrays those sentiments. And a mirror for my back window to get back at the jerks who drive around with high-beam on. In the middle of broad daylight. As if the oversized SUV didn’t say “arrogant jerk aboard” already.

  6. Desipis, there used to be a sticker around the place that said ‘If you can read this, you’re too close.’ I got a very close-up view of another one a few years ago when after having been tailgated for several kilometres while driving 5 ks above the 80 k limit on a narrow, winding, hilly road with very limited visibility, a long way from home, with a developing migraine, I hit a straight stretch and saw that the woman in the lightweight but top-heavy 4X4 that had been practically sitting in my back seat was finally passing me — and then she cut straight back in front of me. As I braked sharply, which my painful head just adored, I saw the big sticker on her read window featuring Yosemite Sam brandishing his pistols and snarling ‘Back off!’
    Otherwise, what Liam said at #3. Not only do I derive great satisfaction from p*ssing such people off, I have also been known to unobtrusively but deliberately box in some prat in a muscle car who is intimidating other traffic in his (or, alas, her) attempts to exceed the speed limit in traffic. Suck it up, indeed.
    Pavlov’s Cat’s last blog post..Two videos for the edification of aspiring Australian Idols

  7. As someone who has been known to tailgate on occasion, I would like to explain that whether I tailgate you or not does tend to depend on the circumstances. For example, if you are on a two-lane road and you want to potter along at 45 in the 60 zone you can go for your life IF YOU ARE IN THE LEFT-HAND LANE. If, however, there is a bus in the left-hand lane and you decide to potter along at the same speed as the bus and block up the RIGHT-HAND LANE, expect to get tailgated. Incidentally, I have noticed that often drivers who do this have no idea they are holding up the traffic; they are just cruising along oblivious (which is, in itself, rather a concern). A little “looming” in their rear-view mirror wakes them up and reminds them that they aren’t the only car on the road. And by “looming” I am probably not talking about the extreme tailgating you are referring to; I mean moving to the right side of the lane or turning my headlights on or something that is attention-seeking rather than actually threatening (which I don’t agree with at all). Screaming off at 70 to make the point that someone has been thwarting your need to speed just confirms you’re a man with a small penis, in my opinion.
    Country roads are a slightly different matter, however,(I live in the country and have to drive on 100 and 80 kph roads every day) because of the greater distances you need to travel. People pottering along at 75 or 80 in the 100 zone, and usually on slightly windy roads where there is no overtaking, drives me absolutely bonkers. I firmly believe that there should be a road rule (if not just a courtesy) that if you are driving “X” amount under the speed limit and you have cars banked up behind you because there is no safe overtaking then it is your obligation to pull over to the side of the road and let faster-moving traffic through. I’ll give you a recent example: I was on my way to work – peak-hour traffic – and there was an old bloke driving an ancient Torana at 60kph in the 100kph zone. By the time there was an overtaking spot that didn’t also involve a car coming the other way there were about 20 cars lined up behind him. It drove me CRAZY that he didn’t at least pull over to the side of the road and let us past, and I was thankful I was able to get past after (only!) 15 kms of being stuck behind him. Mind you, only about 3 cars were able to pass him, so there were still 17 cars stuck behind him (not to mention the others who joined the queue) until the next overtaking opportunity, which was at least 3 kms away. Even then, they had to hope there wasn’t a car coming the other way, so while it took me 7 minutes longer to get to work that day than usual, I shudder to think how late the other people were who didn’t get the overtaking opportunity I did. It wouldn’t have surprised me to learn that there was an accident this morning because some frustrated driver took a risk and overtook when it wasn’t safe to do so.
    The moral of that story was that sometimes slower isn’t safer at all…at least on country roads.

  8. I just came back from France, and one of the freakiest and coolest bits was driving on the Peage/Toll Roads. The speed limit is 130kms, I’m doing 150kms and some dude is sitting on my arse. Something goes wrong we are all very dead.
    I didn’t die, in case you were wondering.

  9. I agree Lynda, people going slow on country roads with no overtaking lanes (hello Barton Hwy) is really annoying. Tigtog, I think, is talking about suburbia with one lane each way, cars parked either side and lots of potential for children, pets and pedestrians to suddenly appear in front of you. Not to mention someone suddenly pulling out of a driveway not looking.
    Mindy’s last blog post..For Battle Royale

  10. Suburbia was my locale, indeed, although I sympathise with the country drivers. I always appreciate the caravan towers who make a special effort to pull over and let others pass, although of course it’s always worst on windy roads where they don’t have any places to pull over!
    This tailgater was on a broad suburban thoroughfare, but with parked cars there was still only one lane to drive in except right near the traffic lights, which I never reached because I turned off. Because he was tailgating I don’t think he saw my turn indicator, so when I slowed down even further in order to turn I think he though I was playing games. I really thought he wasn’t going to brake in time when I did actually stop in order to turn right.

  11. It’s legal and acceptable to drive at 60km/h in 100km/h roads, especially if it’s bad weather, or if your vehicle’s just a bit shit. Slower drivers don’t “make” other drivers take risks, that’s a function of the political economy of the road, and a function of selfishness. Who’re you to “loom” “non-threateningly”? Who decides what is “non-threatening”?
    I’d drive identically slowly in a lot of situations as your Torana driver, and would take pleasure in making you late, Lynda. Your headlights will not make me ride faster if it’s not safe to. As I said, suck it up. We share the road and our own unpleasantnesses—I’ll accept yours while you accept mine.

  12. Heh.
    Lynda, no matter how justified you may think you are, it is still dangerous.
    Will you still be saying angrily from your hospital bed, through the steel spikes holding your skull together and the stitches from the plastic surgery, that it was all the other person’s fault for holding you up?
    Tigtog’s observation that her tailgater was too close to see her indicator light frightened the life out of me — I’ve long been aware of what a stupidly dangerous habit tailgating is at any time, but that particular danger had not occurred to me till now. Fark.
    Pavlov’s Cat’s last blog post..I can has MRI? Or not.

  13. Liam – for the record, I NEVER tailgate so closely that it is dangerous. I maintain the “two second” distance behind, taking the travelling speed into consideration. But – and I’m sorry if I labour this point – who the fuck are you to decide how fast I can and cannot drive if I am driving within the speed limit? Why can’t YOU see that you are being a selfish prick? The fact that you expect other road users to “suck it up” because you are deliberately driving slowly is just unbelievably self-centred, in my book. Fair enough; if you are driving the speed limit and others behind you want to go faster, you can tell them to fuck off (as I do myself) but if you are hogging a lane and stopping others from driving at a speed THAT IS WITHIN THE LAW, then YOU are the problem, not them.
    Suburban roads are another matter entirely. I am often tailgated myself travelling on the 50kph bit of road to my house precisely because I have children and pets of my own and refuse to travel faster because I don’t believe it is safe to do so. However, if I want to drive at 10 kph or more under the speed limit and someone comes up behind me who can’t pass, I ALWAYS pull over and let them through. It is no inconvenience to me to do so and – I must add – I always get a wave of thanks when I do so.
    Happy campers all around.

  14. Why can’t YOU see that you are being a selfish prick?
    1. Everyone is responsible for their own actions.
    2. Everyone has a right to use the road to get around.
    3. No-one has the right to put someone else’s life at risk in unreasonable ways.
    It’s pretty straight forward. The people being the selfish ones are the ones who rate a little inconvenience as a bigger problem than risking injury or loss of life.

  15. It’s entirely possible for both people to fall into the selfish and wrong camp. The person pottering around at 20-30 below the limit in the right lane[1][2] of a dual carriageway or larger without overtaking or turning right is being an annoying arse; the person tailgating them is being a dangerous arse.
    I wish they’d both quit it, and have no particular interest in judging which one is more wrong.
    I drove an ancient Land Cruiser for a while, which wouldn’t go above 80. You wouldn’t ever find me outside of the far left lane on the freeway, not for quids.
    [1] which is not the situation tigtog describes, but one I’ve encountered more than enough. It was particularly irritating when I was doing an on-call hospital job.
    [2] In my experience, these particular freeway slowpokes also tend to drift around, alter speeds abruptly, and change lanes suddenly without indicating, and the further away I am from them, the better. I have always assumed they are stoned or mostly-asleep.
    Lauredhel’s last blog post..?Groovy pediatrician?, says Christopher Noxon – uh, no.

  16. if you are hogging a lane and stopping others from driving at a speed THAT IS WITHIN THE LAW
    Actually, the speed limit is not absolute. You are supposed to take road conditions and other factors into account. There is a 100KMH road near us, narrow, no line, blind humps, which under no circumstances should be driven at that speed. Maybe it deteriorated after the signs were put up. And in heavy rain, or on a dark night where half the oncoming traffic has forgotten to dip its lights etc.
    Helen’s last blog post..The Forest Wars

  17. Actually, the speed limit is not absolute.

    Yup. It’s a limit, not a challenge, and certainly not a guarantee.

  18. But – and I’m sorry if I labour this point – who the fuck are you to decide how fast I can and cannot drive if I am driving within the speed limit?

    I am the driver in front of you. I decide your environment, just as the driver on front of me decides mine. That’s who I am.
    There will never be happy campers all around. The thing I love best about arguments on road use is that it brings out the secret misanthropist in everybody.
    Next topic: mobile phones while driving. Or maybe it’ll be “I’m a good driver so I can have one drink and still be fine”.

  19. The other good reason to slow down when being tailgated (which is what I was taught to do in driver’s ed in Illinois) is to avoid getting pushed into the car in front of you, should the jackass on your tail actually hit you.
    Not as much of a consideration on suburban streets, perhaps, and obviously not if no one’s in front of you. But on highways? Slowing down in front of a tailgater can be the difference between you getting hit and you being sandwiched in a multi-car pile-up.
    Kate Harding’s last blog post..Random Question of the Day

  20. Exactly Kate Harding!
    I got out of my parked car in a busy-ish street one night, and as I was standing in the bike lane, locking my door, a car drove into the back of the next car. And then we had a domino effect. Five cars were damaged. Fortunately none of them had been speeding. In fact, they were stopped at the lights, I assume someone’s foot had slipped off the brake.
    It’s pretty scary to see how much damage can be done by a car moving at rolling pace. With no power behind it at all. If any of them hadn’t had their wheels pointed quite forward, I could have been very seriously injured. Sucks don’t it?

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