Tailgating is not some pre-rugby drink-a-thon shipped over from our American cousins or some crude euphemism for a sexual position (help me out here). No, it is the practice of driving so closely behind another vehicle that it looks like they are being towed. It annoys me more that I can put into words (but for the purposes of blogging I suppose I must try…) because I simply cannot understand why people do it. It also seems to be a practice peculiar to country drivers and the Swiss (who are rabid tailgaters…). So, after a bit of thought, I have concluded that it must be one of the following reasons:
- They think they’ll get to wherever they are going quicker. I cannot think through the logic of this, it’s like a GCSE maths question. The only way you could get somewhere quicker is if the driver in front is driving a Porsche and you’re driving (say) a Fiat Punto and the slipstream created by the Porsche enables you in your underpowered Punto to make better time. This will only work if you are going to the same place and the Porsche is pushing at the limits of the Fiat’s performance. So…you can only tailgate friends…who have Porsches…who are willing to be a pacemaker to your crappy Italian runabout. So you’d have to synchronise leaving times which seems to be a lot of effort to make a small time saving and you’d eventually piss off your friend with the Porsche. Maybe that’s no bad thing.
- Driving close behind promotes overtaking. Whenever I can, as long as it is safe to do so, I drive fast (DW drives like the dogs of hell are at her heels, but that’s another post). I don’t hang about. So when someone drives that closely behind me I have to conclude that they are drunk, insane or automotive bullies. Also, why would this behavior persuade me to be generous and pull aside?; ‘go on my friend, you obviously have a far superior vehicle that smites my puny transportation so I bow down to your muscular driving style.’ Er…? No. Most people let people like this pass because they don’t want to be involved in an RTA.
- They are environmentally conscious This is linked to number 1 in a way; namely, that driving behind someone – slip streaming – would enable you to lower your revs and save fuel and thus the planet. Although my kinder side wants to believe that tailgaters are tree-hugging yoghurt weavers, my cynical side cannot accept that the kind of person willing to alter their driving style in such an extreme and dangerous way – even to save 100ml of petrol per tank – would actually own a car.
- They are agoraphobic This, I admit, is a bit far out, but every possibilty needs to be considered. Would driving closely behind another vehicle alleviate agoraphobia? I dunno, but I ain’t buying it.
- They are separated by a wafer thin membrane from Neolithic man and their reptilian brain stem commands them to mate with whatever is in front of them no matter that it is a metal object Bingo! With deductive reasoning I have found the answer.
The other day, coming off the Motorway from Nyon, guy was driving so closely behind that when I (progressively) braked to join an A-road he skidded to a stop and then honked his horn; like I was supposed to be sorry that I delayed him by not joining another road – full of cars – at 50. If only I had crashed and bashed my way into that road, depriving my children of their father my wife of her husband but – joy! – he would have saved himself (now let me work this out…?)…1.2 seconds. Cock.