Tailgating & Space Cushions

Lets talk about tailgating. What is tailgating? It is when one driver drives their vehicle too close to a vehicle in front of them.

As a new driver when you are practicing it is important you have a “student driver” sign in your back window or on your back bumper as this will help alleviate tailgaters and promote other drivers being kind and courteous with you.

Parents be sure you are not teaching your children how to tailgate, new drivers learn by what they see. Parents even when you think you new driver isn’t watching, they are, they are smart and learn from everything you do when your driving. When they first get behind the wheel they are usually mini u’s.

Remember you should always leave a space cushion between you and the vehicle in front of you of about 4 seconds, a larger space cushion when road conditions are bad. Count the seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, by counting when the vehicle in front passes a stationary object the seconds until you reach the same stationary object. Leaving room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you keeps you safe because it gives you time to react. Should the vehicle in front of you need to do a fast stop you have time to stop as well. Leaving a space cushion between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you when travelling also shows respect to the driver in front. When you drive too close to another travelling vehicle it is like you are trying to intimidate them to move faster and it shows no respect for them or their vehicle because it is dangerous and rude.

When stopping always leave about a car sized space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Think of this space in front of your vehicle as a safety space that you might need. New drivers need lots of room to manoeuvre, they are still developing hand, eye and foot coordination. Some instances when you might need this space between stopped vehicles is when; the vehicle coming up behind you is not slowing down to stop, perhaps they are sliding on ice towards your vehicle; (you could move your vehicle forward or change lanes if it can be done safely) an emergency vehicle is coming up behind you and you need room to move right to get out of the way; the car in front of you breaks down and you need to get around them.

What should you do when someone is tailgating you? You could change lanes. The right lane is for slower moving traffic so if you are not in the right lane, lane change to the right lane if it may be done safely. If you are in the right lane and there is a left lane, the driver behind you should change lanes to the left lane instead of tailgating, however sometimes they are just too lazy or perhaps they are preparing to make a right turn. You could increase your space cushion in front by slowing down slightly by easing pressure on the accelerator and this may prompt the vehicle behind to change lanes. If the left lane is clear and you want to change lanes, you can do that if it may be done safely. What you should not do is be intimidated by the vehicle behind you and increase your speed, because this is dangerous for you. Usually if you speed up they speed up and continue to tailgate, you have just made the situation more dangerous. Do not let anyone bully you on the road!!!!  Remember you have as much right to be on the road as anyone else. The tailgater should have left earlier so they didn’t have to rush.

Drive Safe Lana! 🙂


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