I do not know if you are a football lover like my humble self. Like I once wrote,I am a crazy football follower .Football is not my only love. The art also is. These two as well as my current vocation of saving lives are my driving passion. As a lover of football or the arts, it is always a great honour when those you admire compliment you for striving to catch up. This was how I felt when after the opening piece on the above subject last week,my dear friend,colleague and brother,Louis Odion within the week complimented me for sustaining my column. For those who may not know, this column was midwifered under the creative leadership of Louis as editor of Sunday Sun,some fifteen years ago.
So what is tailgating? Before I draw the curtain on today’s focus ,let me do a recap on some of the issues discussed last week. Tailgating, I told you is when a driver indulges in the typical kiss me driving peculiar with Lagos, impatient as well as convoy drivers. It is when a driver drives behind you without leaving sufficient distance to stop should the vehicle in-front stop abruptly to avoid a collision. Tailgating means the driver behind is not keeping a safe distance between his vehicle and the vehicle in front. Safe distance in driving is a factor of the speed at which you are travelling, visibility and other environmental conditions. This is why a driver at all times should keep a safe distance that should be greater than almost half of the speed in meters. Alternatively,a driver should keep a time gap of two seconds as provided in the Highway Code which I know most drivers rarely read and internalise.
I also told you that When a driver tailgates,it means that the driver is not keeping a safe distance between his vehicle and the vehicle ahead. I went on to tell you that the two-second rule is a rule of thumb which enables a driver to maintain a safe distance no matter the speed. What this rule says is that a driver should in practice stay at least two seconds behind the vehicle that is in front of his vehicle. This rule is not cast in stone and as such what I do when driving, is to adopt the three or even five seconds rule to stay alive.
How then do I calculate or determine the two or ten seconds rule of thumb. First, when driving, you are to allow the vehicle in front of you to go past a fixed point or fixed object such as a lamp post or a tree . When the tail lights of the car ahead of you, line up with the chosen object, count up to two seconds or three seconds depending on what rule you chose. If before you finish counting, your car passes the fixed point, it means you are following too closely. You will then need to increase the distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you by adopting a three or five seconds rule to keep safe.
Why then do drivers tailgate ?The most popular reason is because most drivers are speed freaks. Despite the reality that speed kills but does not gives you any preferred advantage over others, most drivers erroneously believe that speeding will take them faster or quicker to their destination. Such drivers forget that the vehicle ahead could suddenly stop and when this happens, there might be a collision even if it is a near miss.
The second reason is the crowded traffic as well as crowded streets especially during the rush hour on busy streets or should I say school runs hours when parents and guardians hurry up to accomplish the morning/afternoon task in the face of increased motorisation and meet up with office timing.At such times, driving faster than the rule of thumb mentioned earlier will not solve your problem. Your best choice is to keep a safe distance to safeguard your car,life as well as other road users.
Let us now dwell on the four types of tailgaters. They include the aggressive tailgater, the too distracted to care tailgater, the ignorant and lastly the complacent tailgaters. I will navigate you through these four, starting with the aggressive tailgater which is the most dangerous type . This type of tailgater knows they are tailgating and is aware of the risk of their action. But rather than stop, they indulge in their risky driving habits. Their intent is to intimidate you to either speed up or move out of the way. Since this category is aware of the dangers of tailgating, they may try to stay ready in the event of sudden braking by the vehicle in front. Most often, despite this proactiveness, they end up in avoidable crashes. You must therefore always be conscious of their driving mannerisms.
The too distracted tailgater is the second type. This type of tailgater is the most common that we see daily. . This category of tailgaters at first might not pose or seem like a threat but it is vital that just like the case with the first type,you pay close attention to their driving. Just like the first type,this category may be aware of the risk involved in tailgating yet they are too distracted to care.They therefore dellude themselves away from the possible risk. I have seen drivers who indulge in activities such as use of phone among others fit into this category.While it is okay to worry about this too,your duty is to always maintain safe distance as a rule as well as stay alert to your driving and theirs while keeping your eyes on the driving environment to prepare you for any possible collision.
Although the aggressive tailgater is the one to watch out for,i am more curious when I spot the ignorant tailgater who like the name connotes is ignorant of the reason why tailgating is bad, risky and dangerous.One of the people who fall into this category are new drivers because of lack of driving experience. New drivers usually do not know what tailgating is or the dangers involved. Secondly,it is because they have not learnt how to drive safely to avoid falling into this bad driving behaviour. They are the ones who often tailgate and get involved in a road traffic crash which they find difficult to fathom.
Meanwhile, the complacent tailgater, who is the fourth and last, knows that tailgating is dangerous. They were taught that tailgating is bad.Yet they are so consumed in self confidence because they have either never seen i tor been involved in any. This type believes that other people may tailgate and cause a crash. Ironically they delude themselves and assume that they immuned from a possible road traffic crash.This type are usually unrepentant tailgaters.
Of all the seasons in a year,the EMBER months are the seasons when we must do a personal post mortem if we suspect that we fall into any of these risky types. Road traffic crashes respects no one irrespective of your years of driving or the sophistication of your car. Road crashes also occur anyway,anyplace and anytime. Since tailgaters are speed freaks, you must desist from freaky speeding and imbibe defensive driving.
Since driving involves sharing the road with all categories of road users ranging from the responsible and irresponsible drivers,motorists,pedestrians,distracted and aggressive drivers as well as tailgaters, how do we avoid tailgaters? There are rules that will guide and guard you when faced with tailgaters. The first rule is to keep your distance from tailgaters .Second, remain alert to your environment including other drivers’ behaviour and be prepared to stay as far as possible from them.
If you spot someone driving dangerously close to another car up ahead or in a lane beside yours, look for a clearing in traffic so you can stay as far away as possible. You must remain calm even in the face of them honking the horn, flashing their lights, yelling, or making gestures at you. You must take firm control of your emotions to avoid making deadly risky decisions that could distract you as well as the other driver and result in a crash.
The next one is my favourite. I adopt this whether I am in the city centre or on the highway. Once I see such a driver from a distance, I move to other lanes. .Where I cannot find the space to change lanes, I pull off the road to allow the tailgater. Alternatively ,I veer off other routes to avoid the madness. The next rule is to maintain consistent speed especially during rush hour when it will be extremely difficult to speed up. Maintaining constant speed will allow the tailgater the space to pass or overtake. Always ensure that you follow the defensive driving technique rule by ensuring you imbibe the habit of avoiding tailgating driving by leaving plenty of space in front. In conclusion,keep level headed at all times even when you are a victim of tailgaters to avoid possible road traffic crashes