Q: Car Behind is Driving Too Closely & Everyone Is Speeding

(Last Updated On: August 23, 2016)

Comment: I try to be a conscientious driver and follow the rules of the road. I am the type of person that would drive at the speed limit, and if I were to accidentally go over the limit, I would bring my speed back down as soon as I can. Not only that, I try to be courteous (and sometimes lawful) by using the right hand lane as much as possible. But even then I still get tailgated a lot. I seem to always be at the “front of the line” or, as I now see it, I feel like a celebrity as everyone is following behind me! It seems like the speed limit has become the “minimum” speed for most people.

Some people have argued that some of the speed limits in BC have been set unrealistically low. I do feel that on some roadways, the limit could be set higher. But until the speed limit changes, I feel that people should continue to abide by the current set limit. I don’t know if you agree with me or not, but I just wanted to start off by saying that this is how I feel about driving. Unfortunately, I have to share the highway with motorists that mostly don’t agree with my viewpoints and exceed the speed limit anyway. So even though I am driving at the legal limit, I mostly end up being slower than the flow of traffic. I get tailgated at lot as a result.

I find that driving on a single lane road is the worst, but driving on a two lane road doesn’t mean I am free from harassment. I get these drivers sometimes that would continue to follow me at a close distance for a long time, even when there is room to pass me on the left! I don’t know what is going through their heads but I just think, if they want to follow me, at least do it at a respectable distance, please! I also find places where the speed limit drops significantly a challenge as well, for example when entering a playground zone with a 30 km/h tab underneath and it is between dawn and dusk. With people already following me close before entering the playground zone, it becomes challenging to slow down to 30 km/h… And I find that playground zones are less respected than school zones.

Another challenging situation is when you must execute the “slow down, move over” procedure. I had a driver angry at me for slowing down to 40 km/h at a 60 km/h zone. I can’t imagine dealing with a similar reaction when slowing down from a 70 km/h zone or even a 100 km/h zone.

Do you have any tips for dealing with these situations? Would using the four way flashers for a few blinks before slowing down help? (Is it legal to use it in this case)

I have my thoughts on other topics (i.e. right turn on red) but I’ll save that for another time, haha…

Thanks.

B.


Hi

I certainly hear you and I am not sure I have the answers. But after some pondering I can only come up with these ideas (Hopefully someone else will have something meaningful to add in the comments section).

It’s totally your choice to drive at around the speed limit and in my personal opinion a smart choice. This is your choice, not the choice of the driver behind you.

I obviously don’t need to tell you how unsafe and also pointless it is to follow another vehicle too closely. But yes I do see many drivers every day who seem to want to push you out of the way or something like that, when you are merely driving on a public road following the public laws (absurd I know).

Do you ever try to imagine what it would be like if everyone drove like how they do on their road test. Sometimes it’s sad when you go drive somewhere and feel like you’re in a battle field or video game where your only mission is to stay alive.

Since we can’t control other people, you really don’t have that many options for the scenario of the vehicle driving too closely behind you, especially if you’re on a multi-lane road trying to mind your own business in the right lane.

Some people I know put on the 4-way flashers in this case for a few moments (or however long). These people tell me they have good results (and I don’t know of any law against this). We don’t really know what other people are thinking, but the driver behind might think your car is breaking down, and they will not like that idea and then they’ll get out of there.

Sometimes what I have done is take my foot off the gas and gradually let my car slow down to even a bit less than the speed limit or the speed I was going originally, because when I thought about it, I thought about how dangerous it is to have a car that close behind, and I thought about how the more slowly I drive… the less it will hurt when they crash into the back of me. This normally does not sit well, but if you’re on a multi-lane road this might encourage them to leave you alone. If you’re on a one-lane road I am not sure if it would be a good idea – as we do not want to blatantly elicit road rage, I don’t think that is the right answer –  although maybe for a few moments so the person might realize that you aren’t going to magically double or triple your speed as soon as their car is 1 inch (2.54 cm)  from your back bumper, and maybe if they tried the reverse technique of leaving you some space you might feel safer and may compromise and instead of driving the exact speed limit you might drive 5 km more and find some kind of peace or harmony or flow. It’s perplexing that one should have to ‘play games’ or feel like they’re part of a soap opera just in order to be able to go from A to B safely and without ‘harassment’.

Otherwise, you need to leave a lot more room in front of you in case you need to slow/stop, you can do so gingerly so that you won’t be rear-ended by the vehicle following too closely. This can be a challenge in a crowded environment as other drivers will see a huge chunk of space in front of you and possibly not in front of anyone else and might move into it repeatedly. But just gradually try to get it back again. You may have no control over the space behind you but you do have control over the space in front of your vehicle.

On a single lane road you could pull over at the bus stop or if you are able to find another safe place and let the faster traffic go and then continue.

In cases where you have no where to pull over, then just try to keep your space cushion in front and as best you can completely ignore the driver behind you. After all, this driver is unnecessarily distracting you from the driving task.

Playground zones and ‘slow down and move over’ situations are situations where it’s so important to follow the actual speed limit and not go any faster. There is no excuse or reason why we should feel we have to, or want to speed through these areas. So for these I would just try to look far ahead as always and identify that you’ll have to slow down well ahead, so that you may do so gradually. If you do it very gradually maybe the person will actually see the 30 km or whatever sign and have an awakening, or maybe they won’t even notice that you slowed down. 😆

In terms of people who follow too closely for a long time even when there are other lanes they could use for passing, I’m guessing they aren’t doing it to harass you; they’re just doing it because they’re maybe not as educated (or maybe they just don’t care) about safe following distances as you are. Maybe they’re actually happy about the speed you are doing, they just seem to like to drive with a pal and not ‘alone’.  😆  In that case, you might want to do an experiment and see if it would be possible that you could lane change yourself a few times, in order to get that car in front of you, without disrupting the vehicles in the other lane(s).

You could also put a huge sign on the back of your car that asks other drivers to follow you only at safe distances regardless of your speed.  😆 😎 You never know it just might work. Just trying to be creative.

 

 

Many moons ago, Carmen became an ICBC-approved driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, and has spent many years working with new and experienced drivers around the lower mainland. She can be found reading the Motor Vehicle Act for fun while receiving strange looks from others. May the quest for great driving continue!
  • Brandon

    Thank you for your thoughts on this issue! It’s good to know that you can use the 4-way flashers for a bit to warn the driver behind you.

    Have you ever encountered a “Slow down, move over” situation in a 70 km/h zone? With the flow of traffic most likely going at least 70, were you able to slow to 40 km/h in time? Did you get any negative reactions from drivers around you?

    • Hi! Sorry I got carried away a bit with my answer. haha

      Well when you think about it, using your 4-way flashers is normally for warning others of a hazardous situation right? So an aggressive driver behind you driving too closely is 100% a hazardous situation and it’s good to warn others about it, including that driver. There’s nothing wrong with warning him about himself…! lol

      I can’t recall specifically a 40 from 70 km but I can remember a lot of situations where I have been the only one to slow down for certain situations because I just don’t care if everyone else wants to speed, I don’t want to drive dangerously so I won’t. I just try to make sure I’m in the right lane which I usually am anyway… and then just keep myself as safe as possible without worrying if other people want to speed.

      In West Van there’s a 90 zone and then goes to 60 km/hr for some construction. Even that seems difficult for people to follow. But you can always set a good example…. especially if you are the first car as you say you often are.

      You might be the first car because you always stop when the light goes yellow so then you’re at the front. For me I often find myself at the back and then I’m alone, which is heaven, this is only because everyone else has gone speeding ahead and around me even when I’m driving on Oak Street sometimes which is 3 lanes in each direction. After a while I gave up on the “flow” to a certain extent anyway (I will go a bit more than the exact speed limit to try to blend in) but I know when to draw the line.. especially because I’m driving a large vehicle that isn’t mine with other people’s lives in my hands… no big deal right.

  • Honestly, this is what keeps me from using the HOV lanes when I am in the lower mainland. I will do the speed limit and someone will end up almost touching my back bumper. The solid line prevents me from legally moving out of their way. So, it’s just easier to find a place in the right lane and stay there.

    • Yeah it seems like a lot of drivers around here didn’t take their chill pill.