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Tailgaters and aggressive drivers… WHY?

By Steven Bailey - 10 December 2014 80

road-rage-091214

Believe it or not, I’ve never received a speeding ticket, lost a demerit point or been penalised for the conduct of my driving. At this early stage in the article, I am resisting with all my might not to flounder into a tirade about parking tickets in the ACT. I won’t… I promise. Luck has certainly played a role in my near-perfect record but the central impetuous for my general good behaviour is that I simply don’t want to die or worse, kill someone else.

As the holiday season happily happens upon many of us, like many Canberrans, I fear for the lives of us all in the knowledge that some families will be devastated by another Christmas tragedy. Whether it is the roller coaster race to the coast or the hot-headed rush to Sydney, we know that some people will sadly not return. I can understand occasionally putting the foot down to overtake, and dare I say it, I am quite sympathetic towards people who get caught for a low range drink driving offence. But what I cannot understand is people who tailgate at high speeds or wilfully drive aggressively.

My fiancé and I were driving home from Sydney last weekend, and I was astounded by the number of people who actually think that if you drive up someone’s arse you will in fact arrive at your destination sooner. We were pretty much sitting on 115km/h most of the way, and during that time we saw the aftermath of what looked like two horrific accidents. I wondered what caused them. I wondered how frightened the people must have been, if they were stuck in their cars for very long, or if anyone died. And I wondered if it will ever happen to me or someone I love. For me, that is all the impetuous I need to drive safely.

We can put speed cameras on every corner; we could waste precious police resources by drug testing every daggy looking teenager who might have had a joint or two on the weekend; we can defect any car that looks over ten-years old; we can hit people with stupidly excessive fines for driving unlicensed or unregistered. Most of these measures simply penalise people for being poor. I understand the sad reality that we will never completely stop people from dying on our roads – unless of course we lower the speed limits to zero which is what the Greens would like us to do.

The problem is idiots. We have too many idiots on the roads. I support less punitive measures imposed on those who can least afford to pay them and more undercover police on the roads pulling over people who tailgate and drive aggressively. Please drive safely during this holiday period everyone and if you come across a maniac, don’t aggravate him, and just think about your family. Oh, and Simon Corbell, I haven’t forgotten about those parking tickets!

According to the Federal Government’s Australian Road Deaths Database, eight people have died on ACT roads this year. Out of the eight deaths, seven were male, and five were males under the age of thirty-one. The only female was a pedestrian, and the male aged in his late forties was a cyclist.

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80 Responses to
Tailgaters and aggressive drivers… WHY?
magiccar9 6:16 pm 10 Dec 14

mr_wowtrousers said :

magiccar9 said :

Can the OP also define ‘tailgating’? What defines when someone is actually tailgating you, or just too close for your comfort level?

I think standard thinking is at least 3 seconds gap at 100km/hr and more if you are at 110km/h and, well, blow me down, probably more if you are blasting along at 150km/h.

But let me guess, you are an excellent driver with the reflexes of a V8 Supercar driver, right? And your car is in 100% mechanical condition. And the road surface is a like well groomed circuit. And everyone is going the same direction. And you have a four point harness, neck brace and helmet? And you have trained for years at the elite level, rising up the ranks to be where you are today?

Or you drive an average Falcadore that is probably overdue for a brakes/tyre replacement and you just got pumped after watched the Mercedes team win a GP.

Look, if you are holding up traffic at any point, get out of the way. Have some courtesy. Going 150km/h up someone’s tailpipe and flashing your lights and tailgating someone is not really courtesy either now, is it? Both of them are likely to cause frustration and potentially accidents.

Basically, most avoidable issues on the road come down to selfishness:

Speeding: I want to get where I need to go faster than you so I am more important than you
No indicators: Why should I bother to indicate? I know where I am going.
Cutting in: Why should I wait?
No lights when dark/raining: It’s still light enough for me to see in front of me, why do I need lights? (bonust points if you drive a dark colour car).
Driving too slow in any line, esp the right: I am being safe, you should be safe too.

It all comes down to thinking that somehow you are more important than everyone else on the road. You’re not. Everyone wants to get where they are going alive and preferably on time. Some people make that harder than others . . .

The 3 second rule is a flawed theory. Around town, if you leave 3 second gap either someone is likely to fill that space with their car, thus making you slow down further, or you’ll be travelling ~10km/h less than the car in front – likely causing you to be holding up those behind you.

I do agree however that all the problems come down to selfishness. However the card plays both ways, those who are being tailgated also need to consider why someone is doing it to them, and perhaps try to correct the problem.

mr_wowtrousers 5:18 pm 10 Dec 14

magiccar9 said :

Can the OP also define ‘tailgating’? What defines when someone is actually tailgating you, or just too close for your comfort level?

I think standard thinking is at least 3 seconds gap at 100km/hr and more if you are at 110km/h and, well, blow me down, probably more if you are blasting along at 150km/h.

But let me guess, you are an excellent driver with the reflexes of a V8 Supercar driver, right? And your car is in 100% mechanical condition. And the road surface is a like well groomed circuit. And everyone is going the same direction. And you have a four point harness, neck brace and helmet? And you have trained for years at the elite level, rising up the ranks to be where you are today?

Or you drive an average Falcadore that is probably overdue for a brakes/tyre replacement and you just got pumped after watched the Mercedes team win a GP.

Look, if you are holding up traffic at any point, get out of the way. Have some courtesy. Going 150km/h up someone’s tailpipe and flashing your lights and tailgating someone is not really courtesy either now, is it? Both of them are likely to cause frustration and potentially accidents.

Basically, most avoidable issues on the road come down to selfishness:

Speeding: I want to get where I need to go faster than you so I am more important than you
No indicators: Why should I bother to indicate? I know where I am going.
Cutting in: Why should I wait?
No lights when dark/raining: It’s still light enough for me to see in front of me, why do I need lights? (bonust points if you drive a dark colour car).
Driving too slow in any line, esp the right: I am being safe, you should be safe too.

It all comes down to thinking that somehow you are more important than everyone else on the road. You’re not. Everyone wants to get where they are going alive and preferably on time. Some people make that harder than others . . .

Tenpoints 5:05 pm 10 Dec 14

magiccar9 said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

Can the OP also define ‘tailgating’? What defines when someone is actually tailgating you, or just too close for your comfort level? I regularly have people giving the good old ‘wave to sit further away from them’, not because I am close to them, but because it isn’t comfortable for THEM.

I’m not the OP, but I think that a 3 second gap, which is the threshold for a safe following distance given average reaction times and brake performance. Under 3 seconds (or 4 in the wet) and you are tailgating.

To my mind tailgating is the most senseless form of illegal road behaviour that exists, for the following reasons:
1. You have less time to react if the vehicle in front stops or slows suddenly. You also tend to panic more when any sudden changes do occur, which causes a cascading disruption to traffic behind you.
2. You have to concentrate harder on not running into the car in front, which means you have less focus on detecting hazards around you.
3. You have less visibility of the road ahead due to being right behind the next vehicle. This especially applies when tailgating large vehicles.
4. You have a harder time overtaking as you have to start from right behind the vehicle. On a single lane road, when you have a gap, you can speed up in your own lane and spend less time in the opposite lane.
5. It pisses of the person in front of you, which has a chance of escalating the agression aka road rage.

So don’t tailgate, you idiots!

switch 4:04 pm 10 Dec 14

If there’s a tailgating problem in this town, why do so many people also leave more than a car length between them and the car in front when held at lights? Especially when it blocks me from using left (or right) turning lanes.

Holden Caulfield 3:49 pm 10 Dec 14

A_Cog said :

You wouldn’t block an escalator: everyone stands to one side and lets faster walkers past.

If only “everyone” was observant and/or considerate enough to stand to the left on escalators. I often see people in their own little world in shopping malls–walking in front of people, blocking pathways–and think to myself, these people drive on our roads too.

wildturkeycanoe 3:42 pm 10 Dec 14

“The problem is idiots. We have too many idiots on the roads. I support less punitive measures imposed on those who can least afford to pay them and more undercover police on the roads pulling over people who tailgate and drive aggressively.”

I agree totally with the first statement, but the idiots aren’t always the ones who tailgate and drive aggressively. More often it is the ones who drive extremely slowly, have terrible depth perception and drive like they are in a 1920 Crossley 20/25. These are the people who change lanes without looking, even though they are doing 65 in an 80 zone, who slow to 20km/h about 500 meters before the green traffic light ahead in case it changes and who sit in the right hand lane for 10 kilometers because they don’t want to miss their turn. Pension day [Thursday] is the worst, you can tell because their reaction time is so slow they have to drive at half the speed limit.
Then you get the ones who will overtake you to drive at 70km/h in a 60 zone but maintain that 70 whilst in the 90 zone after it, making you wonder if they have any clue at all. If one can not simply follow a speed sign, they shouldn’t hold a license.

magiccar9 3:21 pm 10 Dec 14

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

People get cranky when they get stressed, and they get stressed because some of our road rules don’t make sense, and also because there is a wide range of skill levels out on the roads. Add in piss-poor driver training and testing standards, political rhetoric about speeding being the root of all evil and lack of visible police presence and sometimes things don’t go so well.

Observing a few basic driving courtesies would go a long way towards making driving less stressful for everyone.

Nailed it!

Can the OP also define ‘tailgating’? What defines when someone is actually tailgating you, or just too close for your comfort level? I regularly have people giving the good old ‘wave to sit further away from them’, not because I am close to them, but because it isn’t comfortable for THEM.

I think the main reason people ‘tailgate’ is because of someone around them is being inconsiderate. It doesn’t excuse it by any means, but if someone is travelling outside the flow of traffic, or just being overly cautious, or failing to maintain a regular speed, it can indeed cause other people to feel enraged.

There needs to be less focus on following the road rules to the letter, and more focus on the flow of traffic. If we focused less on sitting exactly on the speed limit (and watching our speedos) and more on maintaing the speed of those around us everyone would get where they’re going faster and with less stress.

Bosworth 2:29 pm 10 Dec 14

“unless of course we lower the speed limits to zero which is what the Greens would like us to do.”

I would go one further, and reduce the speed limit to -10km/h.

Reverse should be the only gear allowed in this town.

A_Cog 1:58 pm 10 Dec 14

Stevo, you were in the way, mate. It’s that simple. Why else do you think I was honking my horn, flashing my lights and waving my hands? Jeez, if I only had a nudge-bar, I coulda gotten home 7 minutes faster.

Sitting in the right hand lane slows people down who want to go faster. Just move into the left lane and let them past. Don’t try to be some [frustrated] public guardian stopping all people in the entire world from going any faster than you, snarkily insisting “the limit is 100, so I’m going 100, they’re not allowed to go any faster, nyah nyah nyah”. And don’t bother quoting the ‘Australian Road Rules’ coz that just shows up the people who don’t get it. Just move to the left and stay out of the way.

You wouldn’t block an escalator: everyone stands to one side and lets faster walkers past.

The same principle applies, just at +100kmh.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 1:13 pm 10 Dec 14

People get cranky when they get stressed, and they get stressed because some of our road rules don’t make sense, and also because there is a wide range of skill levels out on the roads. Add in piss-poor driver training and testing standards, political rhetoric about speeding being the root of all evil and lack of visible police presence and sometimes things don’t go so well.

Observing a few basic driving courtesies would go a long way towards making driving less stressful for everyone.

curmudgery 12:54 pm 10 Dec 14

My driving philosophy is “Everyone on the road is an idiot except me . . . and I’m not real sure about me.”

It’s worked exceptionally well for decades – touch wood.

Solidarity 12:04 pm 10 Dec 14

The lack of fines and/or accidents is in no way an indication of whether you’re a competent driver or not. Half of the issue is that people simply do not understand the capabilities of what they’re behind the wheel of, simple due to either ignorance or lack a lack of interest.

I’d love to have everybodies airbag replaced with a giant spike in the middle of the steering wheel – that’ll slow people down.

Nobody seems to understand such concepts as braking distance or buffer zones these days. Back in the day, before cars had powerful brakes, you NEEDED to know these things. These days, nope.

justin heywood 11:11 am 10 Dec 14

watto23 said :

To be honest its got worse because of the reliance on speed cameras which are useless in catching dangerous drivers who speed all the time, because they often slow down for a camera. We need more police need to focus on bad driving in general, or we should be making it harder to get and keep your license.
While its easy to pick on speeding and tailgating, there is also failure to give way to traffic on a roundabout. Drivers seem to think if you are in one lane they can enter the other lane which is in fact illegal. Of course if done correctly its not a problem, but I know on numerous occasions I see people who don’t even slow down they just speed through, making it difficult/dangerous for someone who wants to get into the other lane.
Also merging is a skill many Canberrans could improve, plus keeping left, regardless of the speed limit is a courteous thing to do.

Also please don’t confuse, no speeding tickets with being a good driver. I’ve been with many in a car with many “good drivers” who have never got a ticket, but failed to understand many of the road rules, failed to indicate and give way on many occasions.

But unless there are police to catch these people who can’t drive, or license tests every say 10 years (after all many road rules now, didn’t exist when a 60yo driver got their license), nothing will really improve.

Hit the nail completely. The only solution I can see is to invest less in speed cameras and more in police patrols willing to pull over these idiots (but what are the chances, given the income stream).

It might give some of the hoons pause if occasionally they aggressively tailgated an unmarked police car, and got pulled for it.

watto23 10:13 am 10 Dec 14

To be honest its got worse because of the reliance on speed cameras which are useless in catching dangerous drivers who speed all the time, because they often slow down for a camera. We need more police need to focus on bad driving in general, or we should be making it harder to get and keep your license.
While its easy to pick on speeding and tailgating, there is also failure to give way to traffic on a roundabout. Drivers seem to think if you are in one lane they can enter the other lane which is in fact illegal. Of course if done correctly its not a problem, but I know on numerous occasions I see people who don’t even slow down they just speed through, making it difficult/dangerous for someone who wants to get into the other lane.
Also merging is a skill many Canberrans could improve, plus keeping left, regardless of the speed limit is a courteous thing to do.

Also please don’t confuse, no speeding tickets with being a good driver. I’ve been with many in a car with many “good drivers” who have never got a ticket, but failed to understand many of the road rules, failed to indicate and give way on many occasions. But unless there are police to catch these people who can’t drive, or license tests every say 10 years (after all many road rules now, didn’t exist when a 60yo driver got their license), nothing will really improve.

Rollersk8r 9:56 am 10 Dec 14

I’ve never had a speeding fine, never had an accident, in 20 years of driving in Canberra. I’d agree luck plays a big part in both, especially as everyone speeds, all of the time!

As for highway driving, I have this cutting edge, brand new, almost magical technology that nobody else seems to have. It’s called “cruise control”. I set this “cruise control” at the speed limit – and then I’m entertained for hours with cars overtaking me at 140 – 150kmh, only for me to overtake them 10 minutes later when they’re inexplicably doing 90-100… then 5 mins later they’re back, way over the limit…

Have had a few very scary experiences on the drive from Canberra to the far North coast of NSW – and we’ll be buckling up for another go next week…

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