You might have already seen our story about brake-checking people who tailgate you – that is, hitting your brakes to warn a driver from being so close to you.
- Tailgating – when a vehicle behind you drives to closely to stop safely – is dangerous
- If you’re being tailgated, don’t get angry and don’t ‘brake-check’ the driver
- There are some passive and simple ways to stop it
While that might seem a simple and sensible way to warn someone that you’d like them to back off a little, it can often enrage the person behind and could escalate the situation to a dangerous level.
And yes, if you were to be rear-ended, the person behind you would likely be found to be liable for the accident, but they might not stick around to swap details – and if they did, you might be in the path of physical harm, too. We’ve all seen those crazy dash-cam videos where people take matters into their own hands, quite literally.
A few of you have suggested that flashing your hazard lights might be an effective way to make a tailgater back off. It may have worked for you, but it should not be encouraged unless there is a genuine hazard or risk on the road ahead of you. It’s ‘boy cried wolf’ stuff, and could instigate further road rage from the person who is following you too closely for comfort. Also, misusing your hazard lights can be illegal.
There are other ways you can simply – and more safely – attempt to stop someone from tailgating you while you’re driving. Here are a few options.
- Keep calm: If you act in a way that could escalate the situation from tailgating to road rage – say, by brake-checking the person behind you, or aggressively slowing down, or even swerving in your lane – you could make it a much, much worse scenario.
- Keep your eyes on the road: Constantly checking in your rearview mirror isn’t going to help. And if they are a real tool who high-beams you at the same time (it’s even worse when the vehicle has a high-lumen LED light bar or spotlights!), it could cause you to be dazzled and that could be dangerous for you and other road users. So, keep your eyes on the road and wait for the right moment to move out of the way.
- Keep left: If you’re in the right (or fast) lane, and you’re doing what you feel to be a fair speed, and yet traffic is building up behind you – it’s probably time you got out of the fast lane. The law backs this up, too, with the rule of “keep left unless overtaking” on most higher-speed roads across the nation.
What if all the lanes are moving freely and you’re just keeping pace? It’s still worth getting out of their tailgater’s way, because otherwise, it’ll just bug you more.
- Keep in mind that it’s not a race: You can let them win. While you might think of yourself as a good driver who could show Skaifey a thing or two given the chance, the bloke in the ute who is right up your backside isn’t going to stop tailgating once he’s past you. He’ll do it to the next car, and the next one. Some people just think they need to harass other drivers by driving very closely to them.
- Keep your concentration. Distraction is a danger. Don’t work yourself up, and you’ll drive more safely.
- Keep looking at the road when they pass you: Making eye contact or gesturing to the culprit will only make matters worse. You don’t want it to become a high-speed game of dodgem cars.
- Keep other drivers in mind: The road isn’t specifically just for your own use. Depending on where you live, tens – or even hundreds – of thousands of cars may use the same stretch of road that you do, every single day. It’s a common courtesy to remember that other road users are on their way somewhere, too, so don’t drive like a tool.
- Keep your loved ones in mind: How would you feel if you couldn’t see your family or friends ever again because you got involved in tit for tat in traffic? It has happened to drivers before, and sadly, it will happen again. Driving is not a game. It’s a serious undertaking and should be treated as such.
In short, don’t engage a tailgater. Just let them pass, and honestly, it’ll be gone from your mind in a matter of minutes. It’s simply not worth the risk.
Not intended as legal advice. Check with the relevant roads authority in your state or territory.