May 23, 2019


Tailgating is inconsiderate, hazardous and infuriating. It’s even worse in August, with the influx of tourists added to the unruly minority of Mainers who seem to be trying to climb into your back seat. Dealing with it requires some thought – and a cool head.

A first inclination may be to scowl in the rearview mirror, curse loudly, slam on the brakes, respond with an obscene gesture, or all of these. That won’t solve the problem and, worse, could escalate the situation into road rage.

Instead, consider: What makes tailgaters act that way? Are you driving too slowly? Did you forget to get back into the right lane after passing?

As for the tailgaters, some are truly in a hurry and want to be close behind you as they look for a chance to pass. Many of them are just thoughtless and impatient. But a few – and this is the trouble part – are selfish, competitive and ready for a fight. Road rage lurks just beneath the surface. Don’t drive them into a frenzy.

Since you don’t know which sort is tailgating you, here’s what to do: Maintain a legal speed, but leave extra room ahead of you, so that he or she can pass when there’s a break in oncoming traffic. If that isn’t working, look for a place where you can signal a right turn and pull off to let the tailgater tear past. On the interstate, stay in the right lane unless you’re passing and when you are, make it quick before returning to the right lane.

That may seem wimpy, but remember that it’s better to have this troublemaker ahead of you than behind you. And keep your own road rage in check.

Driving, especially in summertime traffic, can be nerve-wracking and can bring out the worst in people. Keep cool, and we can all get where we’re going without too much trouble.

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