Tales of a Tailgating Party by K2 Mystery Car
As hardcore enthusiasts, we are the knights of the road. We follow a creed that pledges allegiance at the altar of the automobile. It’s our duty to uphold and demonstrate this creed. We are the few, the proud, the gearheads! What do you do when you've got somebody trying to ride in your trunk, trying to inspect the condition of your rear bumper paint? I like to employ various legal and less than life-threatening strategies for rascally road rapscallions, and today we discuss a few.
You’ve been here before; as you tool down the road at or above the speed limit, the Lexus LS behind you is so close that you can’t see the hood. In the rearview mirror, you can see the driver multitasking busily. Their world revolves around texting, eating, primping, smoking, playing with the gadgets foisted upon by carmakers and who knows what else.
Or maybe you’re the one riding the bumper of the fool in front of you. You’ve been maintaining a safe driving distance between you and the car in front of you on the freeway for the last half hour when this idiot jams an Avalanche in between. Unsafe at any speed indeed; you’ll show them. You flicker your high beams, honk the horn and floor the accelerator. Like a scene from The French Connection, suddenly its white knuckles and red mist time. Now you’re a crazed stunt driver, so you drop your beloved sports car down a gear and pass them on the right. As you slide past, you note that sitting in your car, your head is lower than the top of the bed of the pristine truck that has clearly never worked a day in its life. At just the precise moment, you wrench the wheel to the left, cutting that moron off.
Glancing in the mirror, you see that the driver is a senior citizen who can barely see over the dash, much less have a sense of where the corners of the monstrosity they’re driving are. That doesn’t stop them from gesturing rudely at you in the vain attempt to show you who is the boss.
In another scenario, you’re tooling along and you see a driver looking to turn onto the road you’re on. Making eye contact, you’re sure they’re not going to pull out right in front of you. The distance closes and there’s still no sign that they’re going to emerge out into your path. What feels like an eternity passes and at the very last moment, they pull out directly in front of you slowly, forcing you to slam on your brakes. You feel the ABS pulsing under your foot and you resist the impulse to just allow your car to smash into the back of their car. Conveniently, the driver decides that they should do twenty miles an hour under the speed limit and you’re stuck behind them for the next infuriating miles, flashing your lights, honking the horn and gunning your engine in an attempt to get them to pull over and let you pass. Somehow, your car seems to have been cloaked with an invisibility device because your new pal is completely oblivious of you and your antics.
Admit it; you’ve been there, done that - me too, though you’ll never catch me admitting it to my loved ones unless they’re sitting in the passenger seat witnessing the shenanigans. There’s no denying that we’re all willing and instantly able to do some very dangerous things cocooned in our high-speed metal conveyances. What would make a person act accordingly, especially when they would never be so dangerously aggressive at any other time? How can drivers maintain their licenses when public and personal safety is so clearly at stake? What makes a bad driver and when are we guilty of the same? How do we deal with the frustration and inevitable mistakes?
Let’s analyze the other guy first; mainly because he or she isn’t here to defend themselves. Driver distraction must surely be at an all-time historical high, especially factoring in technology. We’re encouraged to multi-task, consume liquids and indulge in any and all activities other than driving in our cars. Given that, it comes as no surprise that people who probably weren’t very good drivers in the first place would be even worse today. And even when they aren’t distracted, their reactions, decision making and other skills are generally poor. They’re neglectful, inconsiderate, egomaniacal, narcissistic, reactionary, spaced out zombies that have no business being in the driver’s seat in the first place.
And sometimes those derogatory terms can be aimed at us. We must strive to rise above, to be better and to drive defensively. Before you start your car, remind yourself of the risks and go in with a game plan; if you make a mistake, pull over and let the other driver go by. If you’re the recipient of the bad driving, you could again pull over, calm down and gather yourself. Is there another route that would reach your destination but also get you away from that idiot? Remind yourself that it’s not vital to arrive at your destination less than alive.
My methods are not necessarily your methods; what are some of the great ways that you safely and legally deal with tailgaters? What do you do when you make the rare mistake and cause someone to tailgate you? If those don’t float your boat, tell us your scariest tailgating story!
Ed: Big thanks to K2 Mystery Car for this special guest post.