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Driver Safety: Tailgating Accidents Must Be Stopped!

Updated on April 10, 2018
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has spent 30 years working in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, and aerospace education for Active USAF Civil Air Patrol.

Following Too Close? Tailgaters on the Highway Are Outlaws!

Tailgating the vehicle ahead of you is illegal in my state and perhaps yours, but most drivers seem to be in a big hurry.
Tailgating the vehicle ahead of you is illegal in my state and perhaps yours, but most drivers seem to be in a big hurry. | Source

I am thankful that I was able to take and pass the Defensive Driving Class offered by the American Red Cross. It gave me several tips for handling other drivers who follow too closely.

— Patty Inglish

Safe Driving - Important During Holidays and All Year

The highways all around Franklin County in Central Ohio are growing more dangerous by the day. This is because over 45 additional vehicles begin to cruise our highways every 24 hours according to the Ohio Department of transportation in 2016.

In total, we have and additional 300 or more vehicles every week on our roads and at least 1,350 more cars and trucks to contend with every month. This is a lot of vehicle traffic in an area where road-widening efforts take a long time.

The addition of massive traffic makes a lot of new opportunities for disaster, especially in poor weather conditions, at night, and during some bouts of our famous ongoing road construction.


Night Dangers

In Central Ohio, tailgating other drivers is becoming an intense nighttime activity. On roadways with a double yellow line down the center, aggressive drivers in a hurry turn on bright lights and race up to the bumper of drivers obeying the speed limit, blinding the innocent travelers.

Are Our Highways a Day at the Races?

Since RAHAL-LETTERMAN-LANIGAN RACING HQ is in my county, perhaps everyone here thinks they are a race car driver.
Since RAHAL-LETTERMAN-LANIGAN RACING HQ is in my county, perhaps everyone here thinks they are a race car driver. | Source

The problem of tailgating - following too closely - is escalating. Drivers of all ages, ethnic groups, and genders race to nearly touch your back bumper, honk and scream for 10 seconds, and then switch lanes or take the next corner.

The phenomenon is either a statewide mental issue or a fraternity stunt, as advice columnist Ann Landers used to say. I'd like to know what fraternity accepts both 16 year old girls and 90 year old men, because people of all ages are causing the problem.

I hate to have another driver tailgating me on the roadways, but I have heard a variety of methods for foiling the tailgater.

Some drivers advise that you should apply your brakes briefly in order to cause your vehicle's brake lights to illuminate, then look up into the rear view mirror and hold your stare a few seconds as a sign that you do not appreciate the tailgating. This may work in some instances. It may also inadvertently result in the tailgater striking your vehicle, so use your best judgment, case by case.


Stormy Weather Tailgating

If the weather is snowy or rainy, I pull off onto the side of the road and allow the other driver to pass. This will work in some cases. However, if the other vehicle stops as well, drive off again immediately and find the nearest law enforcement station. The other driver is likely a robber, a modern highwayman with a car instead of a horse.

Sometimes, another driver tailgates the driver just ahead on a three-lane highway when there is no other traffic nearby. I do not understand this. This may be an attempt to run another driver off the road in order to rob that person.

If you suspect that that might be the case when someone is tailgating you, then take the next highway exit and drive to the police or sheriff's department. If unable to do that, call 911 on your cell phone and report the tailgater, along with the make, model, color, and license plate number of the vehicle behind you. If you have a service like ONSTAR, use that to make the report.

If the other driver is a law enforcement officer himself, he would probably flash a warning light of some sort and/or siren and have his badge out in the open as he approaches our car. If not, you can always drive off, call 911, report the vehicle and have the officer on the line check to see of the other driver is actually a law enforcement officer.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A double yellow line means "no passing.'
A double yellow line means "no passing.'
A double yellow line means "no passing.' | Source

Solutions to the Highway Tailgater

Humor for Stress Relief

Tailgating is dangerous and car crashes are not an event for humor. However, humor can help relieve the stress caused by an annoying tailgater after the experience is past.

After a particularly annoying case of tailgating one afternoon on a road trip, I came up with the following script that I would sincerely enjoy being able to broadcast aloud from my car via a large loudspeaker mounted on the hardtop. If you ever develop that capability in your own automobile, please feel free to use the script, with my compliments.

For additional fun, access the link below the script, which leads you to a talking greeting card of a tabby cat, and cut and paste the script into the dialogue box. Listen to it as the voice of "Catherine", a sophisticated lady from the UK. Then have fun with other voices.

You can't send the card via email without a fee, but it's fun to hear -- Imagine a digital screen display of the tabby popping up from the back of your vehicle and speaking to your next tailgater. You can also choose a walrus.

Tailgating is not allowed. Stop now.

Tailgating is not allowed. Stop now.
Tailgating is not allowed. Stop now. | Source

Ultimatum for a Tailgater

"Wait. You there!

You are tailgating me. This is not allowed.


Stop now.

I will call the Highway Patrol.

Back off now.

I will slam on my brakes and you will be sorry.

Police helicopters will gun you down with rapid fire if I call the Highway Patrol.

Do not make me dial the number.

I will throw spikes onto the highway and your tires will explode.

Your license will be revoked.

You will be taken away and your car crushed for scrap metal.

You will be housed in a cell beside OJ Simpson.

You will not be employable, even under Stimulus Funding.

Stop now."

--- by Patty Inglish

Other Ways to Avoid an Accident With a Tailgater

  • Do not let the driver behind you upset you, even if he/she waves hands wildly, makes faces, shakes a first, etc. Once, along a double yellow line, I slowed down and stopped right beside the 35 MPH speed limit sign. This was successful in this case, but may be risky if the tailgater is raging.
  • Pull over to the berm and allow the driver behind you to pass. This may be the safest of all ways to avoid a crash, unless the driver seems to be following you to closely and too fast on purpose, and then you might drive to the nearest police station or even a fire station, which is usually successful.
  • The best thing to do is to get away from the tailgater, usually by pulling to a lower-moving line of cars, to the berm, or off the road into a parking lot or driveway. Have your cell phone charged and handy in case the other driver seems threatening - call the police in that case.

AretThe Streets in Your City Highways or Race Tracks?

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Tailgating City

Columbus, Ohio:
Columbus, OH, USA

get directions

This city increases traffic by 45 more cars, on average, every day of the year -- New drivers, multiple car owners, new people moving to town, etc.

© 2010 Patty Inglish MS

Comments and Recommendations

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Sounds like a recent Xfinity race I saw.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Here in the state of Massachusetts USA as in many states if someone rear-ends you for ANY reason then they are 100% at fault. Period. When I'm asked what happened I'll just say a dear jump out in front of me. So don't tailgate me ever.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      That is an astounding problem, Peter. You are very clever to have the video cameras.

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      8 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear patty

      We have these idiots in the uk also, we also have them brake for no reason in front then reverse into you claiming you hit them in the rear causing a whiplash

      Having experienced this a few times my land rover is now fitted with covert video cameras back and front and I do have a scrolling electronic screen in the rear window. It does resolve the case in court but it still doesn't stop them entirely as most are from eastern Europe, don't speak English and treat arrest as an occupational hazard.

      Thanks anyway for a very useful hub

      Kind regards peter

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      FLASH CARDS! Yes, that would do it.

      I think I will buy a kid's aluminum baseball bat and keep it in the car. If I stop in the middle of the street (not the freeway), get out with the bat and approach the tailgater, that would make an impression - if I am not arrested. I'll call 911 at the same time.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Oh this is a sore subject for me! I have two major highways one either side of me a couple miles down the main road. The speed limit is 65. I am sorry if that isn't fast enough and I have been teaching two teens how to drive lately. I keep telling them - don't feel intimidated enough for someone to make you or push you to drive faster. The speed limit is the rule - not "go as fast as you can.". Grrr!

      The poem is funny - I'd love to broad cast that! Or have flash cards:) lol

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I am flabbergasted that at the end of 2011, I found tailgating even in my beloved trips to and through Michigan. It seems to proliferate now.

    • Rob The Honda Guy profile image

      Rob The Honda Guy 

      8 years ago from Chesapeake, VA

      I wish I could tell you when tailgating will stop, Patty. But of course, we can't stop people from being morons.

      I completely agree with you in this article- you did well.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Egad! That is a horrible experience. I find that places where people did not formerly tailgate are full of tailgaters now. Where will it end?

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      8 years ago from Winter Haven, FL

      Excellent article Patty...

      Yes, this is a horrible thing. Furthermore, some people actually get off trying to intimidate others by doing this. I was in a very plush neighborhood in Huntington Beach, CA cruising with a friend of mine. To my dismay, a white lady that looked like she was upper class (perhaps resident of this area) was tailgating really bad - worse than I could remember before. I was finally glad when she pulled away. Just goes to show you that anyone is capable of this egregious behavior.

      Great hub - voted up


    • profile image

      Mike S.  

      9 years ago

      It's nice to be able to vent about the problem but maybe we should take advantage of this thread and try to mobilize a bit? Demand our police agencies do something about what is apparently a problem out of control all across our country. California roadways are full of tailgaters and our vaunted Highway Patrol does little to nothing about it. Perhaps if enough citizens united were to raise their voices at once to the appropriate authority?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I am glad to know that you hate it too, SUSIE42! I think it is getting worse.

    • SUSIE42 profile image


      9 years ago

      I absolutely hate when someone tailgates me. I always keep at least 5 car lengths between me and other drivers.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      So many wonderful comments! It looks like tailgating is happening everywhere. Is it road rage? Too many cars on the roads? Overpopulation?

      Hello, hello - Thanlks for reading and commenting!

      nifty@50 - That's a good idea. I;ve thought of just killing my engine and putting up the hood, but your's is much easier and more visual.

      Med Support - I am thankful you and your son were not hurt, car-jacked, or killed.

      Once when I was tailgated by a suspicious vehicle, I knew where the police station was in that town and drove right to it. That did the trick, but I should have gotten the license plate number and gone inside and reported it. I just left town quickly by interstate.

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      OMG! YES!! Tailgating is horrible. So much road and no need to tailgate. Some people have no patience and think they are just a little more ahead if they tailgate you. Also, someone staying right with you in the next lane can be scary as well. Both happened to me, involving the same vehicle, tailgate for a couple of minutes, then right by my side in the next lane. Scary, as my son at the time was only 4 and he was with me. To make a long story short, I had to stop in the middle of the road as he sped up, stopped, got out with a gun and came towards me. It was a big street, usually busy, but for some reason was not so busy when all of this was going on.

      Suddenly, I heard the screeching of brakes from all sides and looked around. The traffic which followed behind me stopped when they saw I had stopped and saw the guy with the gun. I guess he changed his mind about coming after me because when he saw all of the other cars, he waved his hand, got back into his truck and took off, definitely angry, as he left tire tracks in the road. To this day, I thank God for sending other drivers to FINALLY be on the road at what I would say was the right time. He(God) and the other drivers, evidently saved me and my son from what could have been a deathly experience. And glad the turd was the kind that would just give up in such a case. What a hub!! v/r

    • nifty@50 profile image


      10 years ago

      Sometimes to make the point that you are being tail gated, wait until you come to a traffic stop and put on your emergency blinkers. They will think you are broke down and will not have enough room to get around you. Pull off with your lights still on they will pass you as asap.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      I agree with you and it is irritating but it wasn't me hahaha I can't drive.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      OMG - that's funny and horrible all at once! Thanks for making me laugh sueroy333. A cat dressed as a cop would be great.

      samsons1 - in my city, they are often grouped in Starbucks lol.

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 

      10 years ago from Indiana

      You hit upon my only real peeve. If ever my blood-pressure was too low, a good tailgating would fix that.

      I was going to call the cops the other day and ask them to do something about the guy on my bumper, then I realized the guy on my bumper WAS a cop.

      At this point I would have paid a LOT of money to have the capability of broadcasting your script- a cat on the roof using a megaphone to yell it at him would have been priceless!

    • samsons1 profile image


      10 years ago from Tennessee

      up & funny! Well written, informative and concise. Tailgaters should have their licenses revoked, but the cops are always busy somewhere else having donuts and coffee...

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      10 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great Hub. I too despise tailgaters. Every year I drive to Florida from Ontario and some of the truckers are really insane. I usually speed up when there is one behind me then pull to the other lane when it is safe to do so.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      It never seems like I attract tailgaters all the time. It is really scary when the weather is bad.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      No, not yet, but I likely will! Green Hornet and Kato!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      You knowe, the Green Hoprnet has a great automobile for taking care of tailgaters. Have you seen them set fire to the Hardee's sign yet?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Gus - That's a GREAT story - Glad you posted it here and thanks bigtime! I hope she learned a lesson.

      garynew - That is good advice as well.

      ethel mith - If we had better mass transit I would SURELY take it. Thanks for posting. Hope you're doing well.

    • profile image

      ethel smith 

      10 years ago

      This makes me glad I do not drive :)

    • garynew profile image


      10 years ago from Dallas, TX and Sampran, Thailand

      i simply remove my foot from the accelerator when i have a tailgater (who won't pass when the opportunity arises).

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      10 years ago from USA

      Patty - Some years ago I drove my "Grandma" rambler along an almost empty Interstate at ordinary speed. Along came a tailgater, so I got way over to the right and slowed down to allow the fool to pass. Instead, that driver got next to me and matched my speed - so I sped up (my "Grandma" car was really a hot machine even thugh it did not look like one). This nonsense went on for a time, and eventually I was zipping along at around 90mph in the left lane, and there was the idiot keeping up with me in the right land. Up ahead I could see construction going on in that right lane - and tailgater was staring at me and not at the road ahead. I kept right next to that donkey and did not allow her to switch lanes. She slowed. I slowed. Finally she had to come to a complete stop and I took off like a jet. I have wondered since then if that crazy ever again tailgated and played games on the highway. Perhaps I provided a lesson.

      Gus :-)))

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Erin- I like your ideas, maybe we can market them :)

      chspublish - That one really si funny, and the walrus with a male voice is aslo hilarious. A wide scree in the back window of my car would be great, or one that pops up out of the trunk.

      GNelson - I aw three drivers surround a tailgater in the righthand lane and slow down a lot for about 5 miles. The driver was hopping mad, but helpless.

      dahoglund - When I look for a sgtreet number, I open my wiondow and wave people around, but lately, drivers have been holing as I signal and wait to turn lifet from a busier street onto my side street. I am tempted to turn off my engine.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I usually encourage faster cars to pass me usually by slowing down a bit when there is clear opportunity for passing. Sometimes I find I am at fauld by going to slow on narrow roads where passing is not safe so I speed up to a reasonable speed.

    • GNelson profile image


      10 years ago from Florida

      I don't think that anyone is taught to drive safely anymore. Some drivers believe that the roads were built just for them and the rest of us should get out of their way. I like to pull alongside another car and drive at the same speed just to block them for a while.

    • chspublish profile image


      10 years ago from Ireland

      Love the talking cat!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      You're so right Patty about all this tailgating business. It is very frustrating and annoying when oter drivers engage in this habit. Best to err on the side of caution and pulling over is a good idea and give yourself a break. Safety on the roads and practising it is paramount. Thanks for the hub.

    • Erin LeFey profile image

      Erin LeFey 

      10 years ago from Maryland

      Tailgating is scary stuff. Thank for writing this article. I live in MD, and used to travel the MD/VA/DC corridor a lot. For some reason, when the weather gets worse, and speeds decrease, the incidents of tailgating increases.

      I've tried to really limit my driving this year to the hours of 10AM-3PM if possible. And after that, only to side streets.

      I kind of like the idea of being able to launch a spike strip from the back of my car at will. It would not be safe for everyone to have that ability, but it would be a good deterrent, I think, to know that you would need the distance to avoid it if some nut in front of you would decide to deploy one.

      I want one of those signs on the back of my car that says "Warning: This vehicle may stop suddenly without warning for no reason at all, just for fun, to see how quickly you can react. You have been warned."

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Yes, very dangerous. Once, I was in the right-hand lane, no traffic in the left two lanes, a semi tailgated, then passed me on the shoulder (on the right). I left the freeway at the next exit and have never traveled that stretch of road again.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      I hate tailgaters. But, years ago, I almost got rear-ended by a trucker when I tapped on my brakes to get him off my tail. Scary stuff....

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      That's funny, Jeff. :)

    • Jeff May profile image

      Jeffrey Penn May 

      10 years ago from St. Louis

      We have lots of tailgaters, and slowing down without applying the breaks usually works. (I can stand tailgaters unless of course I'm in a big hurry and somebody is in front of me:)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks very much! I was hoping others would enjoy it. I've known people that carried a white board and a marker and made signs to hold out the window with similar messages! Driving can be infuriating, even when it is not dangerous. Thanks for posting, 2patricias!

    • 2patricias profile image


      10 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      I have always wanted the facility to display illuminated messages on the back of my car, with the words depending on my mood and how safe I feel. Phrases I would like to display include: Wake up! Back off! There are other lanes besides this one. Be aware that my car has brakes.

      I have no money - I have kids. (etc)

      But I enjoy your list, especially the threat to call the highway patrol.

      Thanks for a fun (but important) hub.


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