After spending several hours today in a hot car on a hot motorway, I’ve decided that I need to vent about a particular issue that really, REALLY annoys me – tailgating.
I’m aware in some parts of the world that tailgating means something different, but here in the UK it’s generally understood to be when a vehicle behind you drives so close to your car that it almost appears as if the driver is trying to climb into your back seat.
There are laws, fines, and clear monitoring systems to stop speeding – be they police officers lurking behind hedgerows with a hairdryer-shaped implement in their hand, speed cameras on fluorescent poles or motorway traffic police in a variety of guises. And whatever your opinions are on the way they catch speeding motorists one cannot deny that they are fairly well equiped and organised to do so.
But tailgaters seem to get away with it, and this is incredibly frustrating, not to mention intimidating and sometimes slightly frightening, for instance when a 38 ton lorry sits about 3 feet from your rear bumper and periodically accelerates and flashes you. And I wouldn’t mind if I was going slowly but in the lorry incident I was at the top end of the speed limit and couldn’t safely (or legally) go any faster.
And this is exactly why tailgating is, in my opinion, a worse offence than speeding. Tailgaters positively encourage speeding. Not only are they almost always intent on speeding themselves, they put themselves and other road users at risk, ensure that it is impossible for the car in front of them to safely do an emergency stop and terrorise the driver of the car in front into considering doing all sorts of illegal and unsafe manouvers in order to escape from them.
But how do police catch tailgaters? Answer – they really don’t seem to. I’m happy to stand corrected if readers know otherwise but my own experiences are that tailgaters are only caught when they cause an accident – such as today at a motorway roundabout when a taxi drove right up the rear end of a ford fiesta. The fiesta lost and the driver is almost certainly going to bed tonight with terrible whiplash at the very least.
So…. police have various gadgets and methods of finding and punishing people caught for driving too fast. Please, please, please…. can’t they find a way of doing the same for tailgating and put an end to what has to be one of the most dangerous driving techniques still tolerated and widely used on British roads.