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There is nothing more annoying than a motorist who insists on invading your road space and will not keep a safe distance.

Tailgaters are becoming more common as roads grow congested and leaving a vehicle-length space between you and the next car might mean another car nips in or you miss the traffic lights.

However, the tailgater is a creature with second sense – and you can well bet that the minute you start slowing down to find the turning you want or a parking space, another driver will appear in your mirror and remain straight up your bumper, no matter how often you indicate for them to pass.

Rather than burst a blood vessel at the impertinence of the tailgater for hounding you and invading your road space, tackle the problem with a few tips to make tailgaters turn tail and drive off.

  1. The easiest way to defeat the tailgater is to pull over and wait for them to pass – if you come to a halt in front of them there is a chance they will sit on their horn and a nasty encounter might ensue. Beat them at their own game by simply not playing.
  2. Tailgating is illegal – one vehicle length between cars is the recommended distance, but in congested areas, this is becoming less and less common. However, if a rear shunt occurs it is the driver who failed to leave the requisite distance who will be at fault, so protect yourself just in case.
  3. Keep your speed steady so that the tailgater can decide for themselves when it is safe to pass – if the road is unknown to them it might be they are unsure about overtaking.
  4. If tailgating is accompanied by horn hooting and general signs of impatience with you, do not rise to any provocative behaviour. Simply carry on and let them pass at an appropriate moment.
  5. If you find yourself playing tag with a tailgater so that you are constantly overtaking each other and then hugging each other’s bumpers, rather than roaring off into the distance, let the tailgater go. This sort of competitiveness on roads can be very stressful and it is better not to be confrontational with a tailgater. Try and slip in between other vehicles on the road at some point – or just turn off.
  6. Never be tempted to tailgate yourself as vehicles in slow traffic can suddenly roll back if the driver stops concentrating – this is especially dangerous if you are behind an HGV or coach, as in a line of traffic you could get crushed if a lorry rolls back. In this case, get out of the vehicle immediately rather than wait to see if the driver puts the brakes on.
  7. Tailgating on quiet rural roads is a common occurrence – all that road space and yet the tailgater attaches themselves to your bumper. It may be they are lost or a nervous driver, but again, pull over and let them pass. If they also stop and get out, don’t hang around to find out why for safety reasons – car jacking is not common in the UK, but road rage is and it is better not to take the risk, so smile and wave and get back on the road.
  8. And finally never be tempted to let your tailgater know how irritated you are by gesticulating in your mirror. This could be classed as antisocial behaviour and these sorts of impulsive reactions can lead to more trouble than they are worth.

Tailgaters may be lonely, they may be competitive, they are often annoying, but that is their problem.

Let them roar off into the distance leaving you dawdling along, as it may be the only pleasure the tailgater ever has – and you would certainly never want to waste any more of your driving time on them than necessary.

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Dangerous tailgating can end up resutling in a crash. If you need to break sharply the tailgator could go into the back of you. this is the time of incident when you can make a road collision claim.