Inigo: Wouldn’t tailgating indicate the person doing the tailgating is not excercising due care?
Oh, wah, I might scare the guy that’s tailgating me, and the one tailgating him, and the one tailgating him, and so on and so on… yeah, right. Mofos shouldn’t be tailgating, then, should they? Fuck 'em, I say. Didn’t you see that cat? That cat that ran out in front of me??
This is all fine and dandy until they accelerate into your rear bumper and slide you into a concrete k-bar or guardrail or something and they go home to their wife and kids with a new car courtesy of their comprehensive coverage.
It was just an accident, right?
If a driver is so delicate as to be startled into an accident by the sight of brake lights, they should seriously not be driving, much less tailgating.
The 1 car length per 10mph doesn’t work in the big city at rush hour. Leaving huge gaps in front of you and not keeping up with traffic is dangerous, and you get double AH points if you’re yapping on
your cell phone while you’re blocking traffic.
Well, the tailgating behavior is certainly a contributing factor, but is it any less safe than brake checking? Me simply riding Alice The Goon’s ass all the way to Bethlehem will not cause an accident. Now if Alice decelerates suddenly and I’m too close then I’m likely to tap that ass. At this point, we need to determine why she slowed down, because it was that action that turned an unsafe condition into an accident. If she stomped the brakes in response to a sudden emergency, like a cat running across the road, then yes I’m in trouble for following too closely. But if she hits the brakes for no reason other than to act on an agressive impulse–and brake checking IS aggressive driving just like tailgating–then she’s on the naughty list along with me. Put a case like that in front of a jury and my money says Alice takes the majority of the liability. Tailgating may or may not be aggressive; maybe I’m just ignorant or maybe I’m being a bit of a prick and want you to get out of the way. Brake checking is 100% road rage and looks about as good in court as intentionally ramming someone from the rear.
But don’t take my word for it, give it a whirl
And that is why this is GQ, and not IMHO or The Pit as I originally thought. I have to respond that I am not actually a brake-checker, nor do I play one on TV. You did see that cat, though, right?
The problem with this line of reasoning is that you can’t prove why she tapped her brakes. Suddenly thinking you’re going too fast and wanting to slow down simply for slowing down’s sake is perfectly legal, and you shouldn’t have to check your rear view in order to do it, because people behind you are responsible for following at a safe distance.
Sure, if it can be proven in court that you intentionally slammed on your brakes in order to piss the guy behind you off, it doesn’t look too good, but it’s extremely unlikely you’re ever going to be put in that situation. There’s simply too much deniability. “I thought I saw a dog about to dart out into the road,” is all you have to say. There’s nothing illegal about suddenly deciding you need to exercise caution. This is why the onus is on the guy behind to follow at a safe distance – there are so many legitimate reasons to suddenly slow down that it’s his responsibility to expect it.
ETA: all that said, slamming on your brakes to piss off a tailgater is a pretty dumb idea. I might tap them, not actually slowing down so much as just lighting up my tail lights, but slamming on them is a great way to put yourself in the hospital despite how right you are.
As long as Jormungandr doesn’t do that 5-10 mph slow down quickly I don’t see what the problem is. If someone is tailgating me I will absolutely flash my taillights. This doesn’t really slow me down at all. For the tailgater to hit me they will have to accelerate into me. If they continue to tailgate me I will also slow down some. Again if the tailgater hits me at this point there isn’t much I can do about it. Better that they hit me from behind than they force me to hit someone else from behind.
The drivers manual from the state says that if someone is following you too closely you should increase your following distance from the vehicle in front of you. As long as you don’t slam on your brakes the tailgater has no cause to blame you.
Like a couple posters above I notice I am usually only tailgated when I am in the middle or right lane. If I am in the left lane and see someone gaining on me I move to the right. If I am already to the right there is nothing I can do but make sure I am not the one that rear ends the car in front of me.
If you mean hit your brakes hard for no reason other than to get the person tailgating you to back off you are probably right. There was nothing in Jormungandr’s post that said he was doing that though. He said he would tap his (?) brakes a couple times to flash the lights. You can certainly do that without slowing down much at all. If that is the case then the tailgating behavior is absolutely less safe.
Lots of crazy muddafuggahs out there who graduated from the Dale Earnhardt School of Intimidation Driving. Quite a few people have proudly told me that they “drive aggressively”. Tap your brakes at them and they’ll start playing road games with you. Maybe it’s just a Southern thing, but it is a thing.
As an aside - in my neck of the woods we practice the three second rules, as mandated by law. Mark the location of the car in front of you at a given mark in the road, and slowly count to three as you approach the mark. If you reach three, you’re a safe distance behind. Much easier than trying to gauge amounts of car lenghts to the other car, and it automatically corrects with regard to speed
Usually, my response to tailgaters is to do exactly nothing.
They’re basically trying to bully you into speeding up. When the 10-watt bulb finally pops on in their head that I’m not going to speed up, they’ll usually find their way around me… And they’re less likely to be road-raged at me for hitting my brakes or slowing down. Win-win.
ETA: This assumes I’m in the right lane, at least one other lane exists, and there are no other extenuating conditions…
Yes, the tailgater who winds up rear-ending someone is almost always going to be held responsible for the accident and wind up ticketed and paying higher insurance rates, including the pickup driver who put me in the ditch a few years ago.
I tried this a few times based on the scene in the book (and movie) The Eiger Sanction, where the Clint Eastwood character gains critical ground on a pursuer by turning on his lights, fooling the trailing car into thinking he’s suddenly braked and hitting his own brakes in response. It’s never ever worked for me. Tailgaters are a stupid breed.
One of my favorite situations involves the tailgater who doesn’t have or can’t be bothered to use cruise control and uses your vehicle as a speed guide while staying close up on your bumper (sometimes they do this because their exit is coming up in a few miles and it would take too much effort to pass you and then get back into the right lane). Sometimes I’ve gradually slowed down to 55 mph on a highway with a 70 mph limit before Genius Boy gets the idea and finally passes me.
Unfortunately it’s a Northern, Eastern and Western thing as well.
Jormungandr, I was focusing on " So, who would be responsible for the crash based on my braking habits? " and possibly drew the wrong conclusion about your driving habits. My main point was that just because the other guy hit you in the rear, you’re not neccessarily free of negligence. In fact you if you’re slowing down as an aggressive act you can end up eating the cost of the whole wreck.
You’re absolutely right. Every time I’ve seen these cases turn against the leading car there has been at least one independent witness who has come forward with a story like, “Yeah the F350 was on that little Civic’s ass for the better part of a mile and I think the Civic just got sick of him. And no, I didn’t see any animal trying to cross the road.” When there’s road rage going on I can usually count on a witness in about 25% of cases. Very few people are amused by vindictive and confrontational drivers.
IMHO, the best way to handle a tailgater is to let them go around you. You’ll not be able to change their behavior by holding them up… no more than they are able to change your behavior by tailgating you. These guys have one thing on their mind… getting around you and going down the road at their own pace. And sometimes they pull some crazy (dangerous) stuff in an effort to meet their objective (esp as their frustration grows). At this point, it’s not so much about ego as it is about safety.
I don’t need that problem in my rearview or on my bumper. If I let them around, it’s no longer my problem.
But it’s always been my understanding that if you hit someone from behind… it’s your fault.
I don’t endorse brake-checking. I think it’s smarter and safer to ease off one’s accelerator very slowly.
By law? What neck of the woods is that? It’s not a bad idea but is very conservative. It’s true that braking distance is not linearly related to speed. If you’re going 60, you need much more than twice the distance as at 30. But braking distance isn’t the only issue, because the car in front of you has the same braking distance that you do, more or less. Reaction time. It takes a relatively long time to recognize that there is something going on that will require you to stop, and then hit the brakes. That’s just how the human brain works, and most people grossly overestimate how fast they can react. I use a 2-second rule, and that is a good rule for a reasonably alert driver. It’s difficult to maintain, though, because there’s always some idiot that cuts in.
Within the last few weeks I found myself behind a car that had a HUGE bumper sticker, it looked custom-made. It said “PLEASE DON’T TAILGATE.” You guessed it, this moron was doing 50 MPH in the leftmost lane. :rolleyes:
Absolutely. I’ve had plenty of experience tailgating someone at 90mph and having them slam on their brakes without me plowing into them, because after the reaction time, we’re both slowing down very quickly. Where does this happen? On a racetrack. You pretty much do it constantly. Granted, you have clues about when they’re going to brake hard, but sometimes they do it early (e.g. if there’s a hazard on the course) so you have to be ready for it at any time.