How to Avoid Tailgaters

You're driving along and suddenly you hear a car honking it's horn behind you. You look in your rear view mirror and it almost looks like the person behind you is riding on your rear bumper. Want to know how to avoid these situations? Read on.


  1. Image titled Avoid Tailgaters Step 1
    Never pump your brakes in an attempt to tell the tailgater he is too close to you. (He knows that already!) If you pump your brakes the tailgater will become desensitized to your braking and might hit you if you suddenly had to stop,
  2. Image titled Avoid Tailgaters Step 2
    If you are travelling at the speed limit, or going with the flow, slow down slightly and look for the first opportunity to move out of the way of the tailgater so he/she can pass you safely. The only place where you want a tailgater to be is in front of you!.
  3. Image titled Avoid Tailgaters Step 3
    Move to an outside lane (not the shoulder) and allow faster traffic to pass. In most places, faster traffic moves in the inner lanes (the "fast lanes") and slower traffic in the outer lanes (the "slow lanes"). Moving to this lane will also give you a chance to pull off onto the shoulder (if one is available) in case you need to pull out of traffic completely.
  4. Image titled Avoid Tailgaters Step 4
    Find alternate routes. If you notice that the route you take to get wherever you're going is a constant source for tailgating or other road rage, it might be safer to find another way to go, not to mention much less stressful.
  5. Image titled Avoid Tailgaters Step 5
    If you are on a two-lane road where passing is permissible and you're already going as fast as you are comfortable going, slow down and encourage the tailgater to pass. Waving someone forward is generally considered acceptable on country roads. [SEE WARNING BELOW]
  6. Image titled Avoid Tailgaters Step 6
    If someone is really tailgating you and you feel unsafe, take the first right turn you can. Resume your route when the impatient motorist has passed.


  • If in the left lane of a multi lane road, putting your left turn signal on, momentarily causes tailgaters to go around you in the right lane.
  • Avoid driving during rush hours, typically 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. (morning rush), 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (lunch rush), and 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 PM (evening rush). Rush hours typically happen during the weekdays. While this may not leave a lot of room to conduct daily business, particularly if you stay at home during the day, these are times when motorists are on the roads and not at their peak judgments.
  • Avoid using Highways, Interstates, or other high-speed thoroughfares for short trips. Tailgating often happens on roads with high speed limits.
  • When on a Motorcycle, putting your left hand down and waving back at the driver is very effective.
  • Always drive defensively. Remember, your safety depends mostly on your actions and not the actions of other motorists.


  • It is illegal (or highly discouraged) to slow down WHILE someone is passing you -- if another car suddenly approaches, the other driver needs to make his/her own decision. Don't complicate things by slowing down, because they may also decide to slow down and fall back behind you.
  • In the city, if you are being followed closely by a vehicle and when you turn off the car still follows you, never drive to your home or any personally identifiable location. Continue onward and drive around the block. Odds are good that it was a mere coincidence, but if the vehicle continues to follow you after several random turns, drive to the nearest police station or contact the police with a cellular phone if you have one available.
  • Do not spray your windshield wiper fluid. The wind will blow it behind you and onto the tailgater's window. This tends to annoy the tailgater and causes an unsafe driving condition.
  • One writer added "if you are already exceeding the speed limit, do not slow down to the posted speed limit. This is not advised because it will annoy the tailgater". However, a the exact opposite technique is often taught in driver education classes. Reduce speed very gradually. The tailgater will respond by slowing down as well. This way if something unexpected happens in the road, and the tailgater hits you, the accident will be much less severe because his momentum will be lower and he will hit you with much less force.
  • In many states it is illegal -- not to mention potentially dangerous -- to wave someone on or otherwise encourage them to pass you. There are several reasons for this, one of them being that if you make a mistake -- say, there's a driveway you don't see on the other side of the road that a car is pulling out of and turning right -- you may be liable for any accidents.
  • It is illegal to flash your lights or otherwise give someone the "OK" to pass you.
  • If someone wants to pass you on a two-lane road, there are a few rules in the state of Oregon regarding this:
  • If you pull off the road and the tailgater does the same, pull back on the road and find a populated area (like a shopping mall or a rest area) to pull off at. People have been robbed because they were hit by a tailgater and pulled off in the middle of nowhere. Always be cautious and safe when pulling off of the roadway.
  • Do not make the situation worse by offending the other driver. Shouting, flipping the bird, or making other obscene gestures will probably make the other driver more mad.

Article Info

Categories: Defensive Driving Skills & Safety