Thursday, June 19, 2008

The tailgater


Every time we hit the expressway our main aim is to move into the fast lane.  It has become a habit.  The slow lane isn't inviting at all because there are the 'too slow drivers' whose fastest is around the region of 80 kph.  You make yourself tired more quickly weaving in and out between lanes.  On top of that is the bumpy ride.  Having slow-moving and heavy vehicles on that side all the time probably wears out the tarmac faster.  There are always rough patches coming up barely a few months after each resurface.  So we keep on the fast lane and make way for speedsters when they show up in the rear-view.  Not quite a safe strategy, but then, out on the highway, when's it ever safe?


I was in the 65% seat as usual.  That seat is dubbed 65% because the vulnerability in case of a crash is roughly in that region.  My colleague was driving, and his usual speed was 110-130 kph.  Morning traffic around this time on the expressway was normal and easy-going.  But that morning our driver was a bit edgy.  I soon noticed why.  He was grumbling under his breath about some crazy guy behind us.  A tailgater.  He speeded up slightly.  The tailgater followed suit and kept sticking to our behind.  For us normal guys that's uncomfortable to say the least.


We braced ourselves for some quick change in our situation.  Soon enough, we noticed about a kilometer further down the road there appeared to be something not quite ordinary had just happened.  Our driver reduced his speed slightly but was on the lookout for a gap in the next lane.  He was an occasional tailgater himself, but he knew the hazards pretty well.  As soon as he got one gap that gave him enough clearance he cut in to it. 


The tailgater zoomed pass us.  He found himself staring at a couple of glaring red tail lights which were moving at less than half his speed.  Surprised, he swerved right with his tires emitting squeals and smoke.  His fender grazed the center guard rails and bounced back into the lane and 'swayed his dancing hips' a few times.  Somehow he managed to avoid major damage.  We could have given him a standing ovation, only we couldn't stand up.  We just clapped our hands as we cruised past him.  It was too dark for him to see our brief jubilation anyway.


By this time, in front of us was the site of an overturned truck with it's load of fruits and vegetables spilled all over the tarmac leaving only a small gap for us to pass through.


See ya Mr. Tailgater.  We may never meet again, but then there are your relatives who behave just like you out there somewhere.  They may not be as lucky.  That goes for us too, but we hope they give us a sign so we can avoid them.  We're not too eager to compete with them anyway.  We're allergic to sudden stops.



  1. Dramatic. I had a similar encounter with a tailgater once. He was driving a sports-tuned AMG Benz coupe, latest model. Tailgated me for about 5 mins. I couldn't give way becoz of bikes left n right. One bike cut into my lane suddenly, forced me to step on the brakes. The benz nearly hit me from behind. He thought I was playing a game, he finally overtook me, slowed down to my speed so we were parallel and he gesticulated wildly & showed me his finger. Guess he was too busy trying to catch my attention to see a road divider coming up so he ran into it smack in the middle. I just saw a puff of smoke in my rear view. I think someone hit him from behind too. The damage going into a concrete divider at that speed, ooh I'd say in the region of $30,000 for a Benz, maybe more. Can't say I was sorry for him though.

  2. behind the wheel. Very often a soft-spoken gentleman outside his car, but once he gets behind the wheel he transforms into A Mr Hyde.
    Two things drivers always need to watch:
    1) other drivers' behavior
    2) your temper
    maybe no.2 comes first...

  3. to me. every time a person enters a car, he/she will become another person.same goes to me =.= but if a person tailgating you on the fast lane you should just go turn into the left lane and let that person pass 1st then go back out.

  4. The problem is when you can't find a gap large enough in the next lane to accommodate your speed, and the tailgater is only about 1 meter behind you...
    Not all tailgaters are road-bullies. Some are just in a hurry.
    Fact is, in face of a road-bully, we sometimes don't know how to react to them correctly. If we panic, or we show our fear, it gets worse as in this case

  5. by car is still ok, by lorries and buses are very damn scary, sometimes on a fast lane some more~

  6. How far does a car have to be not to be termed a talegater?

  7. during the years we were using mph, the rule of thumb was 30 feet at 30 mph and add 10feet for every 10 mph. Try to convert that into meters/kph. I'm still trying to change that into a figure I can remember.

  8. Best way to deal with tailgaters (when they can't get around you) is to leave and maintain enough room in front of you for both of you to brake safely when in an emergency. Also, try not to focus too much on the rearview mirror and not paying attention to what's in front of you or you risk having to do hard braking and end up getting sandwiched.

  9. Yes, that's the best strategy... if you pay attention to what's behind you, you could panic. That's your worst enemy. I think most victims end up losers because they get too intimidated. And I think even driving under normal conditions it's best to keep that clearance between you and the car in front.