Just got an 'opportunity to donate to my local municipal authority, even the EMS,for over 150 dollars. (speeding ticket, for those not adept at using an extensive vocabulary.)

Any thoughts on dealing with tailgaters besides safely pulling over? Resting my left elbow on the window sill with a clenched fist, (save for one) is not the way to go, I reckon.

Hazard lights might be a good idea if I see someone coming up fast.

N, now use my cruise control, even at 35 mph.

What’s the best way to deal with tailgaters, aside from safely pulling over and letting the line of cars pass. Any ideas ?


Depends whether or not you are confrontational…I just pull over, life is to short to worry about some other stupid person…they are not worth getting into an accident or suffer from a case of road rage.


Just keep going at the regular speed. I flip my mirror to the night setting so I don’t have to stare at Dopey’s ugly face. If Fathead does get around to passing, do not acknowledge that he exists. Stare straight ahead and ignore him completely. There is nothing legal that you can do except continuing as you were or pulling over. The last time I tapped the brakes was about 30 years ago. Numbskull swerved to avoid my rear end and almost went down a hill between two bridges and onto Beltway traffic. That was the last time that I was as stupid and useless as the fool behind me. You don’t want to emulate the impetuous fool I was back then. Remember, you are defying Ratboy by continuing at the speed limit, which is the intent of the rigid digit.


People have all the (bad) reasons in the world to tail gate. You can’t “cure” them, or even “teach” them of the error of their ways. Just maintain your cool, and leave the “sign language” to the hearing impaired.


Well, you could install a flame-thrower kit: http://www.axdo.net/

And if he gets up the nerve to pass, you can let him have it again with one of these beauties: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaster_(flamethrower)

Just kidding. A little.


It depends on the situation, on a multilane highway you need to be in the right lane unless you are passing. Assuming you are in the correct lane and being tailgated, all you can really do is drive more slowly to maximize the space in front of you. I have that found that most tailgaters eventually figure out that the closer they get the slower I drive.

My funniest tailgating story was in NY state a few years ago. I was driving on a 2 lane winding road in the rain at about midnight (after working for about 18 hours). I was driving about 5 mph over the limit (which was probably too fast for the conditions) and some idiot in a pickup with a utility trailer was right on my bumper for about 5 miles. I just ignored him and kept driving until we hit some straight road, then he pulled out and passed me at a pretty good speed. I watched him pass me and promptly slide off the road at the next curve. I waved to him in the ditch as I drove by.


You know, it seems like it wouldn’t work, but the driver’s manual in Oregon says to reduce your speed slightly and maintain. And you know what? It seems to work with pretty good consistency. Once in a very great while, anger will get the best of me and I will either brake-check the person (not like coming to a dead stop, but stabbing the pedal pretty hard), or just accelerate and leave them in the dust (if circumstances allow.)

The thing is, either of the two more aggressive options only serve to make the person tailgating you more aggressive. It rarely, rarely makes the tailgater back off, and if they can catch me, they will catch me, and when I brake check them, 99% of the time, they are right back on my bumper when they recover.

It’s just not worth it to apply any sort of “you’re really pissing me off” tactic, because that fuels the fire. You’re never going to teach someone a lesson in that situation, best to just help defuse it by either pulling over (when it’s appropriate) or maintaining your speed AND maintaining a safe distance from the person ahead of you.


I had backup lights that didn’t work. I wired up a toggle switch and turned them on whenever I had a tailgater and left them on until the following car was gone. It was an “intentional short”. It worked well at night. So would excessive reflective tape.


Tricky question. I?ll first state the obvious:

Assuming you’re in the left(fast) lane of an interstate, I’d signal and move over to the right (slow) lane. If someone is tailgating you in the fast lane, you?re not fast enough and it?s time for you to get out of the way. If you are on a two-lane highway, IMHO the proper road etiquette to slow down without braking and let the person easily pass.

If you are already in the right (slow) lane of the interstate, it really depends on the situation:

  1. If you strictly abide by the speed limit, you?re going to have real problems because I?ve never seen people keep the speed limit unless a state trooper shows up. You really should try to keep up with the flow of traffic in your lane. There usually is a 5mph leeway in a 35 mph zone and about a 10 mph leeway on the interstate. A $150 ticket tells me you must have been really cruising along. You don?t need to overcompensate?

  2. Assuming you are going with the flow of traffic and the tailgating is dangerously close for the conditions and/or the tailgater seems to be a road rage Mad Max type, I?d actually speed up and safely move into the left (fast) lane and let the idiot pass rather than set off the lunatic. You cannot expect a rational response from an irrational idiot. Look at the facial expression in the rear view mirror. If he/she looks angry, seems to be talking without a cell phone/passenger, just get out of their way. If they?re driving a real beater or an ultra high compensation (er, performance) car, just get out of their way. It?s not worth the hassle or risk of setting them off. You can usually dial *999 and call in their plate number if they?re doing something really stupid. That?s the most effective way to deal with them. If enough people report the idiots on the road, your local law enforcement will deal with them.

  3. If you are going with the flow of traffic in the right(slow) lane and traffic is light, I usually slow down a tad to see if the tailgater will back off or move to the fast left lane and pass. Sometimes people get distracted and don?t realize that they?re following so close and reestablish a safe following distance.

  4. Yes, I?ve flashed my taillights at times. Wouldn?t recommend it though.

  5. If you are stuck in stop and go traffic, you?re screwed. Be prepared for that rear-end bump (put down your coffee cup).


“Assuming you’re in the left(fast) lane of an interstate, I’d signal and move over to the right (slow) lane. If someone is tailgating you in the fast lane, you?re not fast enough and it?s time for you to get out of the way.”

Cmon…you’re doing 65 in a 55 zone, go to pass a double-trailer doing the limit, and somone of maternal canine ancestry comes up on your bumper at 90 and hits the hi-beams 'casue +10mph just ain’t good enough? IMO, he’s gotta wait!


Best policy is to keep to the right and ignore the tailgater.

If you are tired of it and won’t take it any more, keep to the right, slow down to 5 under, then speed up to 5 over and let the tailgater catch up, then repeat the process. It takes a few times for some mental dwarfs to back off or pass.


You said “What’s the best way to deal with tailgaters, aside from safely pulling over and letting the line of cars pass. Any ideas ?” This “…line of cars” leads me to believe that you just might be a
driver who, although they are “in the right”, might be creating a hazard. In our city - as is common in most places - the 5-to-3 lane highway has a speed limit og 55MPH. I see many, many drivers in the left lane driving at exactly 55MPH. Yes, they are “in the right” so to speak, but the reality is that the true traffic flow speed is close to 63MPH. So, a great majority of drivers must change lanes to the right, pass the slow driver, then change lanes back to the left.

While I do feel that adherance to traffic law is important, a far more important concept to grasp is safety. Many people don’t get it. I regularly drive down some country lanes with a double white line runding between the two lanes. I often see drivers nearly brush a bicyclist rather than crossing over the double white line to give the bike rider some margin of safety. To me, blind adherance to law when it endangers life is a very poor choice. I’m not accusing you of that, but fealt a need to air my opinion.

One further thought on a similarly connected point, is that every lane change brings some risk - from blind spots to another driver moving from the far right to center lane when you are moving from the far left to center lane. I see hundreds of drivers mindlessly changing lanes, and a few minutes later they manage to get 20 seconds ahead of where they would be if they just sat tight.


Brake checking can be very dangerous. See my post above. The satisfaction of scaring a tailgater is not worth the possibility that they could be killed, no matter how angry we (the tailgated) get. I know you rarely do it, but even that is too often.


There are many reasons why people tailgate. Some of the reasons are that their sense of distance and speed doesn’t include kinetics. They don’t really have the conceptual ability to understand that kinetic forces increases non-linearly. This isn’t stupidity, but perception. Of course, there can be a mixture of both.
One reason I heard for following too closely was, “If I back off, someone will pull into the new space I have created between me and the car ahead!” My response, “So? Then, just keep making a new buffer space. What’s 50 feet?”


“If I back off, someone will pull into the new space I have created between me and the car ahead!”

That is an issue around DC. I find that if there are about 3 car lengths between cars that most other drivers will not pull in. Some will pull in if there is one car length, but they are few (thank goodness!). That is on a 55 MPH road. You can up it to 4 car lengths on a 65 MPH road.

I typically give about 4 car lengths at 55 MPH and am willing to back off if someone pulls in between. I know that they will pull into the left lane soon, anyway.


I agree with what everyone has said on the subject, but this action has a tendency to touch my buttons and switch my switches. In the past I would hit my breaks, not touch them, I mean HIT them, and watch the fool fly across the freeway. Now, I just let the gas pedal go slow down and they will finally just pass me. It still p’s me off, but I need my tranquility.


Why do you even worry about them, its their problem, not yours. Don’t get me wrong here, if they want to pass, I’m OK with that, I don’t want anyone holding me up either. But I simply don’t worry about the guy behind me unless its at night and his high beams are on, but I have found the adjustment on my mirror that backs them off pretty quick.


You MUST NOT live in Massachusetts or New Hampshire…When I moved here 25 years ago it took me a LONG time to get use the tailgaters here. Sure other parts of the country have them…but it is SO COMMON here…People driving 80mph with some inches from their bumper…and someone inches from that guy…and on and on and on…I’ve seen up to 20 cars in a row all doing 80+ and the back 19 cars are less then a foot behind the car in front of them.

On the highway I DON’T drive in the left lane unless I’m passing someone. In town for tailgaters…I do nothing…I usually drive about 5mph over speedlimit…if they want to pass they can…but I’m NOT going to pull over for them.


I find that the best way to deal with tailgaters is:

  1. Slow down a little by only taking your foot off the gas pedal. When the car behind you has slowed down, speed up again. Sometimes people don’t realize they are tailgating and this will give them an opportunity to realize it and back off.

  2. If that doesn’t work, lightly tap your brake pedal to flash your brake lights. This does NOT mean slam on your brakes, which is likely to enrage the person tailgating you. I have read stories where this inflamed the tailgater, but that is rare and it is no reason to let an unsafe condition continue.

  3. If this doesn’t work, gradually slow down. This has two benefits. The first is that it increases the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. The second is that it encourages the person behind you to pass you.

  4. If you are still being tailgated, slow to the slowest legal speed possible. If a collision occurs, you will have increased your safety margin to the maximum possible.

Keep in mind that tailgaters are usually hot tempered and self-absorbed. Look out for other aggressive tactics, like pulling in front of you and slamming his brakes or trying to run you off the road. Also, never ever tolerate tailgating from a semi. A professional truck driver who tailgates could end your life in a second. You are better off slowing him down to 55 MPH than letting him tailgate you at 70 MPH. Trust me. As a professional truck driver I have seen my share of aggressive drivers, both with 4 wheels and 18 wheels. Ignoring them can be fatal.

One last thing. Stay out of the fast lane. If you camp out in the fast lane, expect to be tailgated. Always stay to the right unless you pare passing.


An “illegal method” that does work often when all else fails…put your blinker on “right turn” while maintaining speed. Have you ever followed someone with their blinker on? Might as well irritate them back till you find a place to pull over safety and let them pass. I usually give them a good mile or two or three of good irritating “time”/ distance. Again, not legal; but I feel better.