2 car tailgating photo

Tailgating With A Conscience

As a teenager driver, I not only believed in tailgating, but I saw it as a duty to fellow speeders everywhere. I had places to go, and I had people in my way. People who paid for their speed limit adherence.

Now, I was a masterful tailgater who used two feet to break and gas right up to the bumper, but I was not a willy-nilly tailgater. Oh no, I had rules.

The 2 Car Rules of Tailgating:

2 car tailgating photo
Some of us are visual learners
  1. If the car in front is going less than 5 mph over the speed limit, the driver must be tailgated.
  2. If the driver speeds up to 5+ mph over the speed limit, the #2 car must cease tailgating.
  3. If a passing lane exists, it must be used unless the offending car is in the passing lane, then tailgate.
  4. Repeat until destination reached or offending car pulls over.

Reasonable enough. But sometimes it’s not just two cars on a dark county road. Sometimes there are a lot of us trying get somewhere and ONE CAR IN OUR WAY.

The 3+ Car Rules of Tailgating:

3 car tailgating photo
Some of us are still visual learners
  1. The car behind the slow car must tailgate that offender until said car speeds up to 5+ mph over the speed limit.
  2. If the #2 car is performing his duty as a driver, he is not to be tailgated. He is to be left alone to focus on his tailgating duties.
  3. HOWEVER, if the #2 car is shirking his duties and not tailgating the slow car, the #3 car must tailgate the #2 car until the #2 car tailgates the offending car.
  4. If the #3 car is shirking her duties of reminding the #2 car of his duty to tailgate the slow car, the #4 car must tailgate the #3 car until the #3 car tailgates the #2 car until the #2 car tailgates the offending car.
  5. Repeat ad infinitum until all is speedy in the world.

Tailgating would have been a wonderful tool if everyone had followed my teenage model of duty and justice. However, most tailgaters are just tailgating with their cars not their brains.

The Rules For Breaking the Rules:

car rule breaking photo
So the visual learners can see how pissed the rule-breaking driver is.
  1. If a car choses to tailgate another car that is already fulling his tailgating duty, the car may disengage tailgating and begin frontgating by slowing down to well-below the speed limit and speed up at passing lanes.
  2. HOWEVER, when the rule-breaking tailgating car stops tailgating, the frontgating car must speed up.
  3. Repeat until afraid for one’s life.

Of course, today, I’m a grownup.  I don’t believe in tailgating, and as a penance for the wicked driving way of my youth, I protect slow cars by giving them a wide berth and frontgating any car that dares to tailgate me.  See, a grownup!

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

24 thoughts to “Tailgating With A Conscience”

  1. Oh, I frontgate all the time! I was never a big tailgater in my teen years (all it took was someone slamming me into the car in front of me to curb that), but I love myself some frontgating action– especially with semis.

  2. wait. you are supposed to quit with these rules when you become an adult? Because I still totally do all these tailgating rules. no good? I blame it on my commute.

  3. Hahahahaha! YES! THIS is the class you need to be teaching right here. And don’t forget how the car that passes the offending car who doesn’t get the drift, must then give the stink eye to the offending car when passing at the first chance – not to be rude, mind you, but to “tell” the offending car that how they are driving is clearly incorrect.

  4. “Amazeballs!” That’s what I would say about this post if I was a teenager engaging in front/tailgating. However, as an adult that engages in front/tailgating I will just say…hmm…”Amazeballs!”

  5. I’ve often thought that cars should come with highly visible speech bubbles so that drivers could just communicate instead of engaging in such nonsense.

  6. Well, your teenage self would hate the grown-up me, but then again, I suppose she would hate the grown-up you too, so that makes me feel better. I love that you protect the slow drivers now. That should be an end-of-year tax deduction for you.

  7. I love the visuals – I am the learner that needs a picture. Thank for that glorious explanation. I followed those rules until I had a child and realized that tailgating could lead me to an accident and I had no intention of sending my child to the hospital for a car wreck. Kids really turn you into a fuddy duddy.

    1. This is why I love you. Those pictures were my crowning achievement in this post and YOU NOTICED. I made them on pages (macs version of word) with just shapes and colors. And I totally high-fived myself afterwards.

  8. he might have stolen it from a tv show, but my father in law used to say “anyone driving 5 miles/hr faster than you is a maniac. Anyone driving 5 miles/hr slower than you is a moron.” That’s a rule I live by and you reminded me of it today. And I laughed out loud by myself. AWESOME.

  9. Sadly, I totally understood (and agreed with) all of this, diagrams and otherwise. But like you, I’m a grown-up now. And so I don’t tailgate at all. I just give the offending car(s) a wide berth and just curse and make annoyed (but not obscene) hand gestures at them.

    Although, now that I often have a little sponge in the backseat soaking up every word I utter (she repeated ‘penis’ tonight with shocking clarity), I now find myself resorting to just the hand gestures.

    Although once she’s front-facing, I suppose I’ll have to stop those too.

    And then I will likely implode from road rage.

    P.S. Why does the driver of the rule-breaking car have a bright pink head?

  10. I love your pictures! These rules make complete sense to me and I agree with them, but I hate being tailgated so much that I try very hard not to do it. (Does this count as being an adult?) Unfortunately, most drivers around me don’t stick to the rule about not tailgating me when I am behind a slow car. Ugh!

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