How terrifying would it be if a huge truck were to suddenly emerge in your rear view mirror? To make it worse, imagine that truck bumping up its speed and moving too closely behind you. Now hold on to that thought. Before moving on to what you can or what you should do in such a scenario, know this first – this is a classic case of tailgating.
Tailgating is basically driving too closely behind another vehicle. There is no definite answer to why people tailgate. But what has been proven so far is that tailgating is a rather dangerous driving practice that can result in accidents. In a majority of accidents that involve a car and a bike, the car always wins. Thousands of people have suffered from car or bike accidents caused by tailgating in the US. It is highly recommended that all vehicles must keep a safe distance from the car ahead of them. There must be sufficient distance between you and the vehicle ahead to allow you to stop your car safely without colliding.
Now going back to the hypothetical scenario in which you are being tailgated by a truck, what would you do? Tailgating can make anyone feel nervous and threatened. Of course if you hit the brakes, the vehicle behind you will slam right into your bike. You can’t slow down, and you are too afraid to speed up, so what should you do? First of all, you must make sure you don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Riders often make irrational and potentially dangerous decisions when anxious.
So first things first – calm down, relax and keep these pointers in mind when being tailgated:
Gently slow down your bike
The first thing you can do is very gently and gradually slow down your bike. Slowing down too fast can lead to a dangerous situation. Therefore, it is important that you slow down at just the right pace for the vehicle behind you to know that you are slowing down.
Flash your break light
Flashing you break lights does not mean hitting the brakes. Under no circumstances should you ever brake when being tailgated. Once you have slowed down the speed, touch the brakes just enough to cause the brake-lights to flash. You must apply sufficient pressure to activate the brake lights without actually bringing your bike to a halt. Flashing brake lights are a signal to the tailgater that you wish to slow down or change lanes.
The safest way to get out of a tailgating situation is to change lanes. However, this may not seem easy especially when the other lane is packed. However, turn on your side signals to show your intent of changing lanes to the driver behind you. Always change lanes when the traffic is clear. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CHANGE LANES IN FAST MOVING TRAFFIC!
Turn into a street or parking lot
You can also move out of the lane into a parking lot or another street. This can be a rather safe move to take if you are within town/city limits. You should always turn on your left or right signals to let other drivers behind you know what your intentions are.
Avoid using hands for gestures
No matter how frustrating the tailgating incident may become, do not use your hands to signal the tailgater to back off or move away. Always keep your hands on the handlebar at all times, especially when riding in the fast lane.
Pull to the side of the road
If the driver refuses to back off, make a wise decision and let them pass. Even in this scenario, you must first check other lanes for traffic before changing or getting off your lane. Make sure you don’t forget to use the turn signals or hazard lights. When you bring your bike to a stop, take a deep breath and relax. Don’t let the fear of being tailgated affect your motorcycle riding.
The above mentioned tips can go a long way in protecting you from a deadly tailgating accident. Riding a motorcycle should be about fun and safety rather than speed and ego.