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How to manage a tailgater

Published:Sunday | November 29, 2020 | 12:08 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Contributor
Vybrant’s damaged vehicle.

The driver who habitually trails a few metres from the vehicle in front is known as the tailgater. “The danger of this type of driving is so obvious” says Kanute Hare, director of road safety in the Ministry of Transport. “If you should ever find one of these drivers on your tail, slow down and allow him to pass by”. The tailgater is that driver who possesses poor judgement, and so it is better and safer to have an incompetent motorist ahead of you, where you can keep an eye on him, rather than behind, where he may hit you.

As a defensive driver, with the correct attitude, skills and behaviour, you can take these actions to prevent a tailgater from hitting you from behind.

Point 1: Signal early for turns, stops or lane changes.

Point 2: Flash the brake lights ahead of time, to warn drivers behind that you may have to slow or stop.

Point 3: Increase your following distance.

Point 4: Move slightly to the left to give a tailgater a better view ahead.

Point 5: Stop gradually to give the driver behind time to stop.

Point 6: Help tailgaters to pass when it is necessary and when safe by signalling with the hand moving aside and slowing if needed.

While managing that tailgater, pay attention to oncoming traffic and those motorists who cross into the path of others. Meeting motor vehicles in traffic usually causes no challenge. However, there is always a chance that an oncoming driver will come into your lane. Be aware of these conditions that might cause another driver to cross over the centre line. “Being aware of the reasons could provide the extra seconds needed to prevent a collision,” advised Hare.

Kurt Harding, an experienced auto mechanic, offers some tips on identifying reasons why some drivers may cross into the path of oncoming traffic.

1. Poor visibility: Direct sunlight, blinding headlights at night, bad weather, large vehicles and blocked intersections can affect a driver’s ability to see ahead.

2. Driver impairment: A driver may be drunk, sleepy or distracted.

3. A case of mistaken judgement of a manoeuvre; a driver may misjudge speed or distance when passing, turning or going around a curve.

4. Reduced space: A narrow bridge, a barricade, objects in the road, or parked motor cars may reduce the width of driving space.