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Van Drivers - Here’s How To Deal With Tailgating Without Losing Your Rag

26 July 2018

Every one of us will have had our run-ins with drivers who are rude, impatient, aggressive or often a combination of all three. Chances are if you work in a job where you’re on the road a lot, you’ve had a fair few more than the average motorist too.

Although ‘white van man’ still carries a fair amount of negative stigma, research has shown that van drivers are actually significantly safer on the road than most people and are nearly 20% less likely to have a crash than other road users. 

All the same, having to deal with inconsiderate drivers day-in, day-out would be enough to push even the most zen of motorists to the edge. If you find yourself coming into contact with aggressive road users and tailgaters often, here are some top tips for avoiding making the situation worse.

Don’t Feed The Trolls

Perhaps it’s more effective to start off with tips on what not to do if you find an aggressive driver all up in your rear-view mirror. According to Peter Rodger, head of driving standards at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), the most important thing to do is not to rise to it.

“The thing is with these drivers, they’re already aggressive. So they’re not about to back off,” he says. “Anything you do to try and make them back off will just make them more unpredictable.”

In other words, while it might be tempting to serve tailgaters some cold, hard road justice, attempting to block them from passing, brake-checking them, winding them up or shouting will likely only serve to make the situation worse and more dangerous.

How To Deal With An Aggressive Tailgater

The best way to deal with tailgaters and aggressive drivers, Rodger says, is to simply let them go. If someone’s putting that much effort into getting up your backside and making a scene, you’ll be doing everyone involved a favour simply by letting them by to fly on up the road.

The sooner they get past, the sooner you can stop worrying about them being behind you and the sooner they can stop worrying about you being in front of them. You won’t lose any pride points or have your honour offended, you’re just doing the safe thing.

How To Deal With A Passive Tailgater

Compared with the furious ‘Get the F out of my way!’ attitude of the aggressive tailgater, on the other hand the passive tailgater is a person who, usually as a result of carelessness or distraction, is driving just a bit too close for comfort but doesn’t seem to quite realise it.

Though they may be less nasty in terms of attitude, they can be no less dangerous: if for some reason you have to slam on the brakes to avoid a hazard in front of you, a driver behind who isn’t paying attention can quickly make a traffic sandwich – with you as the filling.

There are two tactics used to successfully deal with a passive tailgater, according to Rodger. The first is to create a little bit of extra space from the vehicle in front of you. At first, that might sound counter-intuitive, but while you mightn’t be able to control the distance of the driver behind you, you can control your own distance from a person in front.

That way, if worst comes to worst, you’ll have extra room ahead of you in which to brake or take evasive action to avoid becoming caught up in a multi-car collision.

The second tactic is to attempt to gently slow yourself down simply by letting off the accelerator and allowing yourself to coast without hitting the brake pedal. This will avoid aggressively stomping on the brakes and having the driver behind you rear-end you, but will also serve as a reminder that they’re probably just a tad too close to you.

If they don’t get the message first time round, then at the very least you’ll have created even more room ahead of you which you can then accelerate into so that you have a good amount of space between both the car behind you and the one in front of you.

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