6 Riding Tips for Dealing With Tailgaters

You can’t change some drivers’ attitudes, but you can protect yourself. Here’s how.

riding tips, safety tips, tailgaters
Has this ever happened to you? Tell us how you deal with tailgaters in the comments below.©Motorcyclist

Tailgaters suck! Even though these intruders can make the hair on the back of your neck rise, your main concern needs to be whether the tailgater can stop short of rear-ending you if you need to stop quickly. Trying to change a tailgater’s behavior is about as likely as convincing Donald Trump to endorse Bernie Sanders for president. Any attempts to do so will only distract you from other hazards and could trigger deadly road rage. Instead, I present to you a few tips for minimizing the risk of being the recipient of a Buick enema.

1. Check your speed. If people regularly tailgate you then maybe you aren't maintaining the expected speed of surrounding traffic. While you should avoid riding faster than you are comfortable, riding too slowly could increase the risk of being tailgated if traffic is moving significantly faster than you are. If this is the case, you may need to find an alternative route where the pace is more to your liking.

2. Let them by. If it becomes apparent that the driver is not going to back off, then find a safe place to pull over. This is often easier said than done, but why let a tailgater ruin your ride if you can let them pass? Be sure to signal early and slow gradually. Then watch as they zoom by to tailgate the next vehicle ahead.

3. Increase your following distance. A common response to a tailgater is to speed up to try and get away from the tailgater's bumper. But, this usually results in the tailgater also increasing speed. Instead, slow down. No, not to piss off the tailgater, but to gain a space cushion ahead of you. This allows you (and the tailgater) ample time and space to slow if necessary. A minimum of 3 seconds should do the trick.

4. Communicate intentions early. Most motorcycle brake lights don't command a lot of visual attention. But you can increase its effectiveness by flashing it two or three times before actually reducing speed. Also, be sure to activate turn signals at least 4 seconds before slowing to give drivers behind you plenty of notice.

5. Use smart lane positioning. To prevent a close call from a tailgater it's important to choose a lane position that allows you the best angle of view past the vehicle ahead so you can spot problems early and slow gradually. When stopping at a traffic light or stop sign, keep an eye on your mirrors and flash your brake light. Also, place yourself in the right or left-hand portion of your lane to give the driver behind an escape if he can't stop in time.

6. Stay cool. This may be the most crucial. Even though tailgaters can get under our skin, smart riders don't let this bad behavior affect their judgment. Instead, they initiate strategies that prevent these bozos from decreasing safety and enjoyment.