How To Deal With Tailgaters

Last Updated: 10/05/2022

When we speak about dangerous driving, there are many different types of action that would consist of dangerous driving.

Few rile people quite as much as tailgating.

In addition to being highly frustrating, tailgating is possibly one of the most dangerous types of dangerous driving.

Tailgating leads to a huge volume of accidents every single year, and some can cause serious injury.

Tailgating is classed as dangerous driving, but if you come across it yourself, you’re likely to have to deal with it yourself in the moment before you do anything else.

There are two types of tailgaters.

Those who do so in an aggressive manner with their only aim being to pass you as soon as possible and the second type who are usually much more passive and do not realise they are doing it.

Both can be incredibly dangerous.

So, if you are unfortunate enough to encounter a tailgater when out on the road, how do you deal with it?

What You Will Learn

Knowing what to do when you have someone tailgating you is really important.

Due to how dangerous it can be, you will want to bring a situation with a tailgater to a close as soon as possible.

This guide aims to arm you with the knowledge to do just that.

We’ve put it together in our usual format, covering each bit section-by-section to make it as consistent as possible for you.

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

Having established that there are likely to be two main types of tailgaters, we have chosen to break our step-by-step guide for dealing with them down into sections.

Aggressive Tailgaters:

  • If you find yourself being hassled by an aggressive tailgater, it can be quite concerning. They will be incredibly close to you, possibly travelling at high speed as well (e.g. on a motorway) and may be using hand gestures, flashing of lights or erratic driving manoeuvres to try and force you into moving. These actions often wind other drivers up. The pointless and unprovoked aggression rightly offends people, however, it’s vital that you do not rise to it and instead manage the situation.
  • The first thing to do is gradually reduce your speed. Some drivers will be tempted to flash their brake lights to try and scare the aggressive driver off, but it’s not worth the risk. Instead, remove your foot from the accelerator and let the car slow down naturally.
  • As you gradually reduce your speed, check to see if it is safe to pull in, or move over to a different lane. Mirrors and blind spots should be checked.
  • Indicate that your intention is to move over.
  • When it is safe to do so, move your car over to the next lane (left) or pull over and leave the road. Allow the aggressive driver to pass.
  • Do not make eye contact with the tailgater as he/she passes, and do not be tempted to get involved in any hand gestures or other communication. The aggressive driving style is dangerous enough without potentially getting involved with anything else as well.

Passive Tailgaters:

  • Much like the aggressive version, a passive tailgater can be quite a scary proposition. They are likely not even aware of their behaviour which can be much more dangerous as it means they probably are not paying attention.
  • If a passive tailgater is behind you, reduce your speed gradually. Do not touch your brakes as they are highly unlikely to realise and stop. With them being so close to you and also not concentrating, any sudden need to brake is likely to result in them colliding with the back of your car.
  • Again, once it is safe to do so and your speed is under control, check your mirrors and blind spot and prepare to pull over.
  • Indicate your intentions.
  • Pull over, or off the road, to allow the tailgater to pass. Again, while it may be tempting to give the tailgater some indication of your displeasure of their driving, it’s as well to just let them go.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

Tailgating is both incredibly dangerous and incredibly frustrating.

While it can be very tempting to try and fight back against the tailgater by hitting the brakes, flashing lights or giving hand gestures, it’s genuinely much safer and less hassle to just let them pass.

Here are a few more hints and tips:

Stay Calm:

Tailgating is a common cause for road rage, which only leads to more dangerous situations for yourself and other road users.

No matter how annoying, you should simply move over and continue with your way.

Assess Your Own Speed:

It’s always worth just checking your own speed if tailgating occurs.

On rare occasions, it may be due to the fact you are driving too slow for the lane of traffic you are in.

Check The Highway Code:

If you find yourself regularly being tailgated, then check the highway code to make sure your own driving habits aren’t causing you problems!

Useful Information

Despite what you may initially think, tailgating does constitute breaking the law.

While no specific law exists about the offence, it does fall under the scope of a careless driving offence.

If convicted, you can expect a fine of up to £100.

Furthermore, if a driver is aggressively tailgating and it is observed by police, then further punishment may be handed out as well.

If tailgating leads to a serious collision, then the driver will also be in hot water.

Depending on the severity of the accident or collision, the driver may be imprisoned, hit with an unlimited fine or banned from driving.

It’s a serious offence, and one which should not be taken lightly.

Final Thoughts

No matter how frustrating a tailgater is, your primary objective must always be to make the situation as safe as possible.

Following this guide can help you do that.

Rather than getting embroiled in any road rage incidents or exchange of gestures, you can relax in the knowledge that you have used your own skill and experience to diffuse a potentially hazardous situation.

Further Resources