On your bumper and accelerating
July 23, 2008 9:35 AM Subscribe
Why to people tailgate on the interstate?
posted by quin to Travel & Transportation (50 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Specifically, why do people drive at unsafe distances from other people's cars? It's not uncommon for me to see a line of more than a dozen automobiles all driving within a car length of one another at 65+ miles per hour. What's even more odd to me, is that I will frequently see cars race up to a line of people doing this, and take their spot at the back of the pack for no apparent reason.
My first thought was that it was an aggression: "I'm on your bumper so move over" thing, but when confronted with a dozen or so cars (and sometimes semis) in front of you, that doesn't make sense. I also thought it might be an effort to draft to improve gas efficiency, but considering how many of them are driving otherwise, that seems unlikely as well.
What's worse is that if one person hits their brakes, the entire line is forced to rapidly slow down, which inevitably leads to traffic congestion as people jump into a different lane, making everyone behind them slow down as well, and when traffic resumes, these cars inevitably go right back to driving with very little space in front of them.
Is it just that people are inattentive and don't realize how close they are, or is there some kind of other mechanism at work here that I am not understanding.