Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tailgating is the new normal

Tailgating seems virtually standard nowadays.  I still try to apply the rules I learned in Driver's Ed, increasing distance from the car in front of me as I pick up speed, to allow for human response time, and especially in cases where traffic flow is irregular.

But many others do not.  People will get right behind my bumper in any lane, or regardless of whether I may be passing cars on the right or not.  When people get right behind me, I try to avoid sudden changes in speed.  In order to do that, I leave even more distance from the car in front.  Mind you, I'm still keeping up with it, just falling back slightly.  But that can infuriate some of these drivers enough to make a big scene squeezing around me and blasting up to the next car where they can pull the same stunt again.

The most important thing is not getting to work 1/10 of a second earlier.  The important thing is staying alive long enough to retire and therefore not to have to drive to work every day.  But for many people, I think this goes beyond impatience.  It is a tribal display of their Ayn Rand allegiance, ironically an allegiance to promote anti-social behavior.

Another problem with universal tailgating is that it becomes more and more difficult to get on the freeway or change lanes.  You may need to let a long line of tailgating cars to pass, or somehow get ahead of it.

One of the worst places in driving nowadays in Texas is trying to get out of a shopping mall parking lot into an "access road".   People barrel down access roads as if they were highway.  There is no protected turn signal, you have to wait for some kind of gap.  And sometimes, it can be a very long wait, with cars behind you honking and/or trying to squeeze past.

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