By: Ben Bausback | SADD National Student Leadership Council
Have you ever been driving down the road when another driver approaches your vehicle and follows up close and personal? If so, how did this make you feel? Recently, I had an aggressive driver follow me closely while driving on the interstate as we approached a zone of road work. In the moment, I immediately felt tense, stressed, and overwhelmed with a lack of understanding for what my next steps should be. As a teen driver, this is an experience that I had not been subjected to yet. Luckily, my mom was in the passenger seat, instructing me to stay calm, focus on the situation, and maintain my speed in the right lane.
Traveling bumper-to-bumper in this stressful scenario is known as tailgating. When a driver tailgates, or follows another vehicle too closely, it prevents them from avoiding a crash when the vehicle in front of them brakes suddenly. Whether its road rage, or the driver is running late, tailgating is unacceptable and extremely dangerous for everyone sharing the roadway. Those who engage in this selfish act are neglecting to consider the safety of travelers on the road.
To my fellow teens reading this blog, remember that we’re in our early years of driving. We haven’t been behind the wheel long enough to have experience handling different scenarios, including interactions with tailgaters. The act of tailgating, as we know, can be distracting, dangerous, and definitely frustrating. However, it is imperative that we do our part to remain defensive drivers and keep our cool when we come into contact with a tailgater. To ensure we are being responsible drivers, I have a few helpful tips that I’ve learned on tailgating to share with you. First of all, know your speed limit and maintain that speed. Also, always leave a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you – especially during adverse weather conditions. Finally, if you are being tailgated, don’t fear. Stay calm and continue to maintain your speed – don’t feel pressured to speed up. Rather than being an aggressive driver, stay defensive. After all, when we get in a vehicle, the goal is to get from point A to point B safely, right? As you continue to gain experience with driving, remember to always be safe, and study up on your driving skills with the National Road Safety Foundation and SADD’s Passport to Safe Driving!