Sunday, June 27, 2004


Let me jump right to the point on this one. Tailgating on the highway is unsafe, no doubt about it. But you, the one being tailgated:


I do not condone tailgating. In general I can’t condone any kind of highway hostility, and driving in California, you do occasionally see hostility. But the tailgaters, wrong as they are to tailgate, do have a legitimate gripe, and on balance I take their side.

If I was made President for a day, (or King, if I’m really going to shoot for the brass ring) this would be my first decree: “If you are driving in the left lane, and another motorist drives right up on your ass and stays there…. Get the fuck out of the left lane.”

The left lane is a passing lane, not a cruising lane. There are drivers out there, including myself, who want to go a little faster. We’re willing to risk being ticketed. We accept that risk. Do not sit in the left lane and block us.

Here is a common thought that occurs to the party being tailgated. “Hmmm. This guy clearly wants to pass me. But can’t he see that there’s another car in front of me, about 10 carlengths ahead? If I let him pass, he’ll just be stuck behind that guy. Clearly, he needs to accept that 70mph is the fastest he can expect with this level of traffic.”

I offer this response on behalf of all tailgaters: “Let ME worry about that guy.”

Like I said, I do not tailgate. Tailgating is dangerous. Generally, what I do is I pull up to a “tailgating distance” behind the car in front of me for about two seconds. Then I retreat to a normal distance. This lets the guy know that I would like to pass him, but that I’m not some kind of psycho. Some people prefer flashing headlights. That’s a little bossy for my tastes, but I don’t object. And when the shoe is on the other foot, I’m completely cooperative. If I’ve achieved my desired cruising speed of 85 in the left lane, but some enterprising young motorist wants to pass me at 95, I don’t complain. I don’t judge. I don’t dawdle.

I get the fuck out of the left lane and let the guy pass.

And I generally see him approaching before he gets to me, so I can get out the way early and let him pass without breaking his stride. See? Courtesy. Understanding.

We should welcome speeders. We should celebrate them. After all, they’re taking the heat off the rest of us. If some nutjob is speeding in and out of lanes at 100mph, well then I can cruise at 90 without having to worry about the fuzz. That’s great!

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