Tailgating can be a very enjoyable experience, gathering around a vehicle to picnic at a sporting event with friends and family. This can create great and lasting memories. It’s that time of year when the family is taking time off from work, the kids are out of school, and outdoor events get planned.  

Along with the fun and frolicking that surrounds tailgating, there is also the increased amount of traffic during summer vacation. On the first day of summer, as I arrived home, traffic was moderately heavy, but not ridiculous. There was an overhead sign on the road where road conditions, traffic delays, and other pertinent details were displayed. The message on the sign this afternoon was very poetic. The message was “It’s not a race. Leave some space.”

As I glanced in my side mirrors, I saw that I was being “tailgated” by a semi-truck. In this case, the driver had positioned the front of their truck so close to the rear end of my trailer, that none of their truck’s cab was visible through my mirrors. 

On public highways, if you’re following a responsible driver, they will have 3 to 3.5 seconds of space between them and the vehicle ahead of them. Also, if you were following a responsible driver, they would not speed up just because you, an impatient driver, decided to crowd them to urge them to drive faster. 

Both lanes of the highway that we were traveling on were completely occupied by vehicles. The left lane was moving along steadily at approximately 5 miles per hour quicker than the right-hand lane. It was one of those nice moments where there was a lot of traffic and everyone for the most part was maintaining a nice, steady, orderly pace. From where I sat, a person could have done all the lane changing, tailgating, and passing that they wanted and still not be able to advance their position in the traffic queue with any significance. 

I tried to think of what the driver behind me had going on in their head. Did they really believe that getting closer to the back of my trailer was going to get them to their destination in a timelier manner? Were they not looking far enough down the road to realize they could not gain much more distance than any of the other vehicles? Were they going to bully their way all the way through all this traffic? Did they think that because they drove a large semi-truck, the other motorists would yield the right of way to them? 

What was obvious to me was that the driver behind me was not taking in the big picture. Of course, they could not see the big picture! They were so close to the stainless steel rear doors of my trailer that the only thing they could see was their own reflection. But they were only seeing the physical reflection of themselves and not the selfishness of their driving. 

But seriously, the real issue here is that there was no room for this driver to maneuver, if anything would have gone wrong in this dense traffic situation. The delay for everyone would have been much greater had there been a crash. So, I implore everyone to just leave some space between vehicles as you travel on the highway and leave the tailgating where it belongs, at the parking lots and at the parks.

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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/T™, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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