A tailgater is someone who is following to close and on an open road, there is no excuse for this dangerous behavior. The driver of this tailgating vehicle is basically driving blind as all they can see is the back of our freight box and none of the possible dangers.  Their reaction time is now about zilch as they have not given themselves any time to react. 

When on an open stretch of road and this happens what do you do?  We are often driving below the posted speed limit especially in Texas with 80 MPH interstates, yet we still encounter tailgaters that are very stubborn. They get on my nerves because if they rear-end me, I will have to worry about my CSA score and the absolute hassle of dealing with an accident scene. 

How can anyone drive at interstate speeds blind?  There are times when we change lanes quickly to avoid debris on the roadway or we can straddle the debris that the tailgater cannot. During the night the tailgater is even more vision impaired because we as the leader might need to react very quickly to a situation such as seeing a black bear in the road. Yes, coming down Donner one night I almost hit a bear but the bear was running fast and I was staying straight in my lane slowing down quickly.  We both made it through the encounter with racing hearts. If I had been followed by a tailgater there could have been a disaster for all concerned. 

Personally I cannot think of any reason to tailgate a truck due to safety.  I have heard people say they tailgate for fuel mileage, but why pick a truck where they are driving blind? Is fuel mileage worth your life, damaging your car, or possibly ending a truck driver’s career?  I do not want to discuss a truck tailgating a smaller vehicle as that is just wrong any way you look at the situation. 

Shaking a tailgater is often not easy as they are like a burr sticking to our backside. Going slower or faster does not seem to concern them as they are driving in a daze.  Recently I was able to shake one by slowing down somewhat and when safe moving quickly into the passing lane and slowing down further. The tailgater sped up and quickly got behind the truck that was in front of me.  

There are times in city driving where everyone is bunched up and it is each vehicle for themselves usually.  Most professional drivers when they see the roadway up ahead of them coming to stop will immediately turn their 4-ways on to warn the drivers behind them of danger. In city driving, we can see over the tops of cars and see what is happening ahead.  When we get into a line of trucks we are now driving blind and need to slow down to place a safe stopping distance between us and the vehicle ahead.  Often this space creates an opening for a smaller vehicle to get in front of us but at least we can still see further down the road to react.

The keyword in all of this is “react”, to be a safe driver we must have time to react to any situation to keep us and the vehicles around us safe.  Don’t tailgate.

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Linda Caffee

Bob and Linda started their driver careers after their children left home for college in 2000. Bob started as a driver for a large motor carrier with Linda as a rider. They decided to enter the Expedite industry as team drivers in 2005 and purchased their first Freightliner. Both, Bob and Linda have had their Class A licenses since the early 80's starting out driving in the oil field and hauling grain as fill in drivers where Bob worked as a diesel mechanic. Linda worked at the local country courthouse in data processing.

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