Tackling a tailgater without hitting the brakesPosted: Updated:
Back in March, some dramatic video hit the internet, showing drivers in Wisconsin behaving badly.
The footage showed dash-cam video of two dark-colored SUVs in the fast lane of a highway. The one in front was being tailgated by the second driver. Seconds later, the video shows the flash of a brake light from the first SUV and immediately the tailgater loses control. The vehicle starts to veer into the next lane, then overcorrects back across the lane before ending up in a ditch.
Many people can relate to being tailgated and all of the emotions it brings.
"It can be frustrating, especially when they’re right on your back end and you get nervous, a little anxious and you’re like, ‘Okay, does this person have an emergency? Are they trying to hit me? Are they intoxicated?'" says Sgt. Obed Gaytan from the Tolleson Police Department.
When someone’s riding your bumper, hitting your brakes, or “brake-checking” is likely one of the first things that comes to mind, to send a message to the driver behind you that they are too close for comfort.
Sgt. Gaytan says though it’s tempting, don’t do it.
"We just discourage it because a lot of things can happen," says Sgt. Gaytan. "You don’t know really what’s going through their minds."
In these types of situations, Gaytan says the tailgater is at fault. In Arizona, it’s against state law to follow too closely.
Turns out, the tailgater in the video was cited, and police say the driver who brake-checked her could also be looking at trouble for placing others in harm’s way. Several cars were forced to slow down on the highway as a result of the reckless driving.
Sgt. Gaytan says the best thing you can do if someone’s on your tail is to create distance. You should change lanes if you can and let the driver pass. The goal is to have at least two car lengths between you and the other drivers on the road.
If you’re in a single lane, he advises you to find a place where you can safely pull over, because you don’t want the situation to escalate to road rage.
"You want to get home to your family safely," says Gaytan, "and that’s the bottom line, is to get home to your destination safely and peacefully."
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