Why do you tailgate?

  • Thread starter Hurkyl
  • Start date
Hurkyl
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
14,843
17

Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm just curious to understand why people do this. I'm curious about both people who just don't maintain recommended following distances (e.g. something like two seconds, or 170 feet at 60 MPH in good conditions), and the people who tailgate egregiously (e.g. something like a quarter second, or 24 feet at 60 MPH).
 

Answers and Replies

Chi Meson
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
1,766
10
Maybe you smell nice?
 
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,349
51
It means you're driving too slow and should get out of the way so the person behind you can pass. :biggrin:
 
russ_watters
Mentor
19,016
5,168
What else am I going to do while drinking before the game?
 
Last edited:
Danger
Gold Member
9,564
244
I don't know why people do it, other than unforgivable stupidity.
When I learned to drive, it was the car-length rule. Now it's considered that a 2-second separation is safe, so I give 3 under clear dry conditions, or 4 if it's a motorcycle in front of me. Both of those distances go up by 50 or 100% for adverse weather or road conditions.
I don't like it if someone tailgates me, but I have ways to make their lives miserable if they don't back off. :devil:
 
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
What makes me crazy is when I'm on a two-lane highway and I'm following the car ahead of me at a reasonable distance, going the same speed. That car ahead of me is doing the same, as is the car ahead of him, and so on, and so on.

Car after car after car, all moving along at the same speed on a winding, two-lane road.

Why, why does the guy in back of me ride my bumper? I CAN'T go faster, at least not for long.

In situations like that, Danger, I'm with you with those wicked ways :wink: to make people back the heck off.
 
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,093
174
In some cities, if you don't tailgate someone just moves in ahead of you anyway. And it is used as a way to make the person in front of you move over, but I am a big fan of stopping distance. :biggrin: I prefer to do the driving and keep Newton in his place.
 
536
2
people who just don't maintain recommended following distances (e.g. something like two seconds, or 170 feet at 60 MPH in good conditions
Then the only logical thing to do when someone is tailgaiting is to slow down considerably, so that their stopping distance will be within the recommended range. Try 20 MPH on an interstate highway. If they are still tailgating, go to 10 MPH. Then, when they try to pass you, the only logical thing at that moment will be to accelerate to 60 MPH as quickly as possible, since they are no longer tailgaiting and there is no further reason for you to move slowly.
 
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,093
174
Technical point: It is illegal and dangerous to drive at speeds signficantly below the speed limit.
 
203
3
Then the only logical thing to do when someone is tailgaiting is to slow down considerably, so that their stopping distance will be within the recommended range. Try 20 MPH on an interstate highway. If they are still tailgating, go to 10 MPH. Then, when they try to pass you, the only logical thing at that moment will be to accelerate to 60 MPH as quickly as possible, since they are no longer tailgaiting and there is no further reason for you to move slowly.
I hope you're not serious! Going that slowly on a highway is very, very dangerous (far more so than tailgating). Some highways actually have lower limits on the speed, and a car traveling lower than that posted speed can be ticketed.

I hate tailgating. I'm a huge speeder, so I understand the desire to go faster than the car in front of me, but tailgating in traffic makes no sense. Sometimes I accidentally travel too closely for a moment, but I make an active effort to back off.
 
2,903
13
I dont tailgate anyone, its stupid. I just wait for an opening and PUNCH it, and change lanes back infront of them after I've passed them.

If your going to drive the speed limit, do us all a favor and stay on the right lane. If not, go crash into a tree.
 
536
2
Laura1013 said:
I hope you're not serious! Going that slowly on a highway is very, very dangerous (far more so than tailgating).
I think tailgating is much more dangerous. If you need to slam on your brake with maximum force and with no warning, for example, if you see a squirrel or a turtle crossing the road in front of you, even assuming that you have the time to stop to avoid harming the animal, the tailgater would probably push your car into the animal. Not only would the person in back be responsible for the damage to your car, but, more importantly, they would also be responsible for killing the animal.
 
854
16
Then the only logical thing to do when someone is tailgaiting is to slow down considerably, so that their stopping distance will be within the recommended range. Try 20 MPH on an interstate highway. If they are still tailgating, go to 10 MPH.
I actually did this once. Some idiot was tailgating me on the interstate and had their highbeams on too. I turned my rear view mirror to dark and kept going slower and slower so they would pass me, but they just wouldn't. Finally, I pulled to the shoulder and stopped. There was a cop car behind me with flashing lights which I couldn't see because my mirror was misadjusted. All this because my rear licence plate light was out.
 
480
0
I hate when I have a 2 second gap in front of me, and someone pulls into that gap...
 
wolram
Gold Member
4,236
553
One time when driving in fog this guy came behind me with like a foot ball stadium amount of lights on, i pulled into a layby and so did he, i asked why he needed so much light, he said so that he can see to follow me.
 
chroot
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
10,165
34
Having driven with a few people whom I consider to be habitual tailgaters, I can say with some confidence that many tailgaters literally are not even aware they're doing it. They seem to be unable to understand what a safe following distance looks like, or fail to actually consider it at all while driving. When told "you're totally tailgating that guy, would you please stop?" they usually look at me with incredulity.

- Warren
 
Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
6,987
14
If I'm following someone who is impeding traffic flow by driving right beside a truck for a long time on a 2-lane highway, I will go closer than recommended to let the driver know.
 
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,349
51
If I'm following someone who is impeding traffic flow by driving right beside a truck for a long time on a 2-lane highway, I will go closer than recommended to let the driver know.
Yeah, if you're going to get in the passing lane and not pass anyone, I'm going to get on your bumper too...and push you past the other vehicle if I must. But that only applies to the passing lane. If there's only one lane, or the slower vehicle is in the right lane, there's no reason to tailgate as there's either no place to go or you can get around passing on the left. I do sometimes end up closer than intended simply because the nitwit in front of me can't maintain a constant speed...I adjust to their speed, and then they slow down, I try to pass, and they speed up...makes you wish you had a bazooka on the roof to clear them out of the way. :devil:

I did have a truck tailgate me along a long, one-lane, winding road one night, with their high beams glaring in my mirror. I HAD to drive slower than usual, because their lights were blinding me...if they would have backed off just a bit, I could have sped up and made us both happy. I even tried to slow down and let them pass, but they wouldn't...grr.

I should also note that in NJ, there's no such thing as NOT tailgating. It takes a long time to get used to what a normal following distance is when you leave the state and move to places with lots of room on the roads. Going 55 or 60 mph in bumper-to-bumper traffic is not uncommon there. There really is no option for not tailgating, because if you slow down, you'll just have a wave of other cars passing you and filling in the gap you're trying to leave.
 
Last edited:
Kurdt
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,769
6
I drive a McLaren Mercedes SLR which has carbon ceramic disk brakes and can stop in half the recommended distance. Thats why I tail gate.

I do tail gate but I have this thing where I have to be as close as possible to the car in front. Even when the traffic has stopped I only leave a couple of inches between cars. I don't know why, just one of the many weird compulsions i have.
 
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,349
51
Even when the traffic has stopped I only leave a couple of inches between cars. I don't know why, just one of the many weird compulsions i have.
One novice driver with a stick shift on a steep hill will teach you your lesson there. Though, in a way, I can appreciate this feeling...for some reason, it drives me nuts when the person in front of me leaves a big gap between them and the car ahead of them. I really don't know why...rationally, that makes practically no difference in the time it'll take to get through a light when traffic moves again, yet somehow it seems like they're dilly-dallying or something. The frustration only becomes a bit more logical if there's a person trying to squeeze in from a side road or driveway into a line of cars and that person with the big gap in front of them who is oblivious to the people behind them is the reason that person can't complete the turn and get out of the way of someone else behind them wanting to go some other direction.
 
Kurdt
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,769
6
I think tailgating is much more dangerous. If you need to slam on your brake with maximum force and with no warning, for example, if you see a squirrel or a turtle crossing the road in front of you, even assuming that you have the time to stop to avoid harming the animal, the tailgater would probably push your car into the animal. Not only would the person in back be responsible for the damage to your car, but, more importantly, they would also be responsible for killing the animal.
Thats the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Not only are you not supposed to make those sorts of maneuvers for animals (since it endangers human life), traveling slowly on a motorway would cause other drivers to have to brake sharply and swerve regardless of whether they were tail gaiting or not.
 
turbo
Gold Member
3,028
45
I hate tailgating, and I try never to over-run my stopping distance. That trait caused me no end of problems when I worked out of a field-office in Pottstown, PA because I'd fly into Philadelphia and take I-76 north to King of Prussia. Idiots with NJ and PA plates would cut in front of me constantly, making it feel like I was driving in reverse.
 
Kurdt
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,769
6
One novice driver with a stick shift on a steep hill will teach you your lesson there.
Oh I never do that on an incline unless its a downhill one, and learner drivers have to display 'L' stickers so they're easy to spot. :biggrin:
 
38
165
What bugs me is when I am driving the speed limit on a city street and some one starts tailgating. I change lanes the first chance I get and the person whizzes by. Twenty seconds later I pull up beside said person at a traffic light.
 
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,349
51
Oh I never do that on an incline unless its a downhill one, and learner drivers have to display 'L' stickers so they're easy to spot. :biggrin:
Wow, we don't have any such thing here as a big warning sign that someone is learning to drive (might be a good idea...I'd be sure to give them a good lesson if I spotted them :devil:), but even those who have their full license can be rather novice...and, around here (don't know how things work in the UK), you can get your license using an automatic transmission without knowing thing one about operating a stick shift, yet can then go out and buy yourself a stick shift and learn as you drive.

turbo-1 said:
I hate tailgating, and I try never to over-run my stopping distance. That trait caused me no end of problems when I worked out of a field-office in Pottstown, PA because I'd fly into Philadelphia and take I-76 north to King of Prussia. Idiots with NJ and PA plates would cut in front of me constantly, making it feel like I was driving in reverse.
See my comment above about driving in NJ. One just needs to adapt to the local driving style. You can't leave a big distance between you and the next car in heavy traffic. NJ roads are for people with quick reflexes...if you want to toddle along, drive around NJ not through it (walking follows the same rules...if you're going to toddle along oblivious to the people around you, expect to get shoved out of the way). :biggrin:
 
Top