Chances are, if you have driven on any road in Bellingham or Whatcom County, you’ve looked up in your rearview to see the front grill of the car behind you filling the mirror entirely. It’s irritating, nerve-racking, and unsafe. Sometimes drivers do it without knowing, especially if they are distracted, other times it’s obvious they are trying to get on your nerves.

Also called “following too closely”, tailgating is generally against the law, along with the accidents that can be proven to have been caused by this behavior. Washington State prohibits it, so keep that in mind when you are driving along Bellingham and Whatcom County roads. Tailgating is one of those behaviors that is easily preventable – if you find yourself following the vehicle ahead of you too closely, simply slow down or attempt to pass when it’s safe. Remember, speeding doesn’t get you there any faster, so if you feel your blood pressure rising you can take a few deep breaths and count to ten. Use the 3-second rule when you’re driving to avoid tailgating.

What if you’re the one being tailgated? You aren’t responsible for another driver’s careless driving, but there are a few things you can try to get out of this unsafe situation.

  1. Stay calm, and focus on your driving. It’s not the time to pick up a cell phone to try to report the behavior. Take a few deep breaths.
  2. If you are in the left lane(s) (also called the passing lanes, for good reason) then get over into the right lane. That should take care of this situation pretty quickly. However, if you don’t have another adjacent lane, pull over onto the shoulder when it’s safe to do so. Most likely, if you’re being aggressively tailgated by another driver, this person just wants to be able to go faster. Use your turn signal and let the person pass you, then continue on your way.
  3. If you can’t safely pull over, you can slow your vehicle a bit, and drive closer to the shoulder. This may prompt the driver behind you to pass you once it is safe for them to do so. Avoid speeding up or slowing down, as that may spark more aggression behind you. Try to maintain a steady speed.
  4. Prepare yourself for annoying behavior if you can’t get over and they can’t pass. You can flip your rearview mirror to the nighttime driving position to avoid the flashing lights and rude gestures that may ensue. Focus on your driving, as it’s the only thing you have control over – not the other driver’s behavior.
  5. Lastly, you might be tempted to tap your break, to let the driver know they’re tailgating, or even to teach them a lesson. Do not do this, as it may prompt an accident or even more aggressive driving.

Above all, remember cars are meant to get us to our destination safely, and they’re not driving themselves. The more you can do to be a safe, responsible driver, that’s one more vehicle on the road we could all get behind.

About Bill Coats Law:

Our core values are empathy and grit.
Empathy – caring, listening and understanding

  • We do our best to always listen to, care for and understand our clients.
  • Our goal is to provide outstanding service.
  • We limit the number of cases we take so that we can provided high quality service.

Grit – persistence and determination

  • We are persistent and determined.
  • We do all in our power to achieve excellent results for every one of our clients.

We also try our best to be honest, helpful, positive and humble.

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