Tailgater Avoidance Tips That Could Save Your Life!
(Written in September 2017 - Article first published December 2017 in Bike Nation Magazine)
Getting tailgated in the UAE is a serious problem we face every time we hit the road on our bikes. It’s dangerous enough being tailgated when you are in a car but the stakes are dramatically higher on a bike.
Fortunately, the latest smart cameras are helping the UAE authorities to identify the tailgaters, and hopefully this will stop some of the culprits, but what can we do as riders to avoid becoming a statistic of this dangerous practice?
Firstly, you don’t want to aggravate the situation so stay calm and don’t get engaged in any strange behavior, definitely no hand gestures and absolutely no brake checking (yes, we have seen riders doing this in the past) if the car clips you and you go down when they are already so close its likely you won’t be getting back up.
When getting tailgated many riders first instinct is to speed up, (yes, we know we are generally way faster on a bike) but this is not the best approach especially if the tailgater is trying to intimidate you so they can pass because they will just speed up as well.
Simply let them pass if the conditions on the road allow you to do it safely. On the highway if there is a safe escape lane then maintain your speed observe, indicate, and change lane to allow the tailgater to pass. It may be that you can change lanes and overtake the vehicle in front to put an extra buffer between your bike and the tailgater.
In my own experience, its often when you are queuing to make a U-turn that the cars get dangerously close, and its these situations when an overtake or a lane change is not possible or just not safe.
The advice here is to simply extend the gap between your bike and the car in front. In the UAE keeping a 3 second gap (the 3 second rule) is recommended between yourself and the vehicle in front so you maintain a safe stopping distance (the 3 second rule works at all speeds).
If you have a car that’s driving a few inches from your back wheel you are going to have to brake for them too, in other words you must ensure there’s enough time and space in front to allow for both you and them to brake safely, so ultimately you need to extend your gap to at least 5 seconds (3 seconds for you to stop and a further 2 or 3 seconds for the tailgater so they don’t rear end you if you have to stop suddenly). Basically, you are creating a 5 second buffer. In this example slowing down and extending now becomes the safest way to protect yourself from a tailgater.
Our advice is to always ask yourself what else you can do as a rider to avoid hazards or dangerous situations occurring. It could be it’s your fault you are being tailgated, maybe you are you riding too slow for the speed limit? For example, if you happen to be cruising at 30km searching for an address on Jumeirah Beach Road then you are bound to get tailgated.
Another important piece of advice if you are being tailgated is that you need to be extra predictable, feather your brakes to flash your brake lights so the tailgater has advance warning that you will slow or stop, and apply turn signals a few seconds earlier so that your intention to turn is very clear before you are ready to change direction. Safe riding is as much about planning and observation as it is about speed control.
The perfect riding weather is going to be here very soon so join RIDE SAFE UAE in encouraging everyone to ride safe so they can ride again!
Please remember, written information provided by RIDE SAFE UAE is general advice from experienced motorcyclists including former motorcycle instructors and motorcycle industry experts. It is no substitute for physical training but it does provide you with useful tips, insights, and advice that can help you focus on improving your overall riding skills and ability.