Tailgating: The habit considered to be the most dangerous driving action on our roads at speed
It’s one of the most annoying things we all experience on the road – and yet almost all of us follow others when we’re impatient behind the wheel.
Amanda Stephens, a senior research fellow at Monash University’s Accident Research Center, uncovered the reason people rear-end in a new study.
She said when drivers are in a hurry they feel their time becomes more valuable because there is less of it left.
So when something or someone violates this time, drivers can become increasingly frustrated and aggressive.
A study of real-world driving concluded that speeding and rear-end collisions increased the likelihood of an accident more than holding or using a cell phone.
Drivers who rear-ended were 13 to 14 times more likely to be involved in an accident compared to more responsible drivers.
A study of real-world driving concluded that rear-end collisions, along with speeding, are the most dangerous road traffic acts. Drivers who rear-ended were 13 to 14 times more likely to be involved in an accident (stock image)
Amanda Stephens, a senior research fellow at Monash University’s Accident Research Center, said when drivers are in a hurry, they feel their time becomes more valuable because there is less of it left
Ms Stephens said tailgating is caused by people getting angry when someone comes between what they are trying to achieve, in this case the goal.
She said that before you react to a problem, you often evaluate what happened, but when you’re driving you’re in a heightened state and don’t have time to think critically about what’s going on.
“Before you answer, you usually assess what happened and ask who is to blame and whether they could have done things differently,” Ms Stephens said.
“But when you drive, you have less time and resources to do detailed evaluations. Instead, you make quick judgments about the situation and how best to deal with it.
“If you’re frustrated before you get in the car, you’re likely to become easily frustrated while driving, blame other drivers more for your circumstances, and express it through aggressive driving. Tailgating and speeding are examples of this aggression.”
Rearing aggressively is often viewed as a way to retaliate against a slow driver, and is believed to serve as encouragement to get out of the way or to accelerate.
Rearing aggressively is often viewed as a way to retaliate against a slow driver, and is believed to serve as encouragement to get out of the way or to accelerate
However, Ms Stephens said when a driver gets agitated and angry they underestimate the risk and overestimate how much control they have in the situation.
She said the best way to stay safe behind the wheel is to recognize situations that could lead to your behavior.
A study of nearly 100 self-identified aggressive drivers revealed four tips for staying calm behind the wheel, focusing on planning, pausing, taking deep breaths, and rethinking the situation.
The best strategy for these self-proclaimed aggressive drivers was the 5x5x5 strategy. The strategy asks motorists whether the cause of their anger will matter in five minutes, five hours or five days
Ms Stephens said the best strategy for these self-identified aggressive drivers is what is known as the 5x5x5 strategy.
The strategy asks motorists whether the cause of their anger will matter in five minutes, five hours or five days.
If after that time it’s considered unlikely, then it’s not worth getting upset about and it’s best not to.
If a decrease in anger and fear on the road isn’t enough motivation to stop tailgating, motorists can also face hefty fines.
If you are subpoenaed in NSW for not maintaining the correct distance between your vehicle and another vehicle, the penalty is $448 plus 3 minus points.
That’s almost the same amount as exceeding the speed limit by 20-30 km/h, which is punishable by a fine of $455 and minus 4 points.
HOW TO STAY CALM BEHIND THE LENK
1. Plan your journey before you start your journey and allow sufficient time for the journey
It’s good to see how you’re feeling before you get behind the wheel
2. For example, drive in the left lane while driving to avoid slow drivers in the right lane
Or if you feel like getting angry, pull over and take a minute to calm down
3. In your vehicle: Do things to calm yourself, such as take deep breaths or listen to music
4. “Rethink” the situation: Recognize that in some situations you can only change how you feel about them.
For example, ask yourself: is it worth the risk?
Or personalize the other driver. What if that was your loved one in the car in front of you?
The tips come from Amanda Stephens, a senior research fellow at Monash University’s Accident Research Center
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