Bill asked about a specific incident, but the answer from CHP Officer Jon Sloat applies to any driver, anywhere.

Question: On a narrow back road with limited space to move over to allow traffic to pass safely, what is one to do when they are travelling at the posted speed limit and have an overly aggressive tailgater approach them at a high rate of speed? I had this happen to me recently. I wasn’t able to move over safely, and the person got more and more aggressive.

Calling 911 isn’t an option, as 1). cell coverage is bad in this area, and 2). it would make the situation much more dangerous trying to make a call. — Bill

Answer: Our advice is to pull over when you are able and let the aggressive driver go. Until then, number 1, do not push your speed to a point where you do not feel safe just to get them off your bumper. Stay at the speed that is comfortable for you. Number 2 do not tap the breaks to either teach a lesson or suggest they back off. This will generally cause an aggressive driver to become more angry and dangerous. If they attempt to pass, back off and let them.

We find that aggressive, dangerous driving is usually a pattern of behavior, not a single incident. A person can not engage in a pattern of risky behavior indefinitely without repercussions; they will be stopped and cited, arrested, or they may crash. We try to get them prior to that, but in the mean time, let them go.


Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter at @PDRoadWarrior.



Be Sociable, Share!



  1. Dan

    Let’s reiterate what the officer stated. When being tailed by an aggressive driver, move over when safe. Do not tap your brakes so as to teach a lesson but rather simply move over when safe.

    I would also like to add that the far left lane is not a cruising lane, it is called a PASSING lane. If you have more than five cars following you, you should move over and let them pass. Likely, you are holding them up.

    June 28th, 2013 9:29 am

  2. floridajoe2001

    I’d say shoot ‘em, but the policy of this paper says I can’t.

    So I won’t.

    June 28th, 2013 10:47 am

  3. Sandy McCormick

    Same message for the travellers of River Road. If there is a long string of cars following close behind, you are most likely holding up traffic. Be safe and kind, by pulling over. Personally speaking I always give tailgaters the chance to pass me.

    June 28th, 2013 10:58 am

  4. Kate Brandtner

    Try turning on your left turn signal. Drivers back way off anticipating your turn. Then when it’s safer to exit or pull over, you can.

    June 28th, 2013 11:06 am

  5. Jack

    Dan, I hope you read the officer’s second paragraph.

    His answer was not justifying the act of being an aggressive driver.
    These days, it seems most of the annoying drivers are the distracted ones going really slow but the answer isn’t scaring them.

    Kate, thanks for that tip.

    June 28th, 2013 11:37 am

  6. The G Man

    I travel Hwy 1 frequently in the Marin County area from Olema to Stinson Beach, and as you know that stretch is one lane in both directions and very curvy with blind turns. There was a time when a vehicle came up behind me at a high rate of speed, and wanted to get around me. I wasn’t anywhere to allow her to pass. I slowed down by letting off the gas gradually eventually coming to a full stop, and she passed me, but on a blind turn. At that point I didn’t care what she did as long as she was off my butt. And it’s not my responsibility for what she caused.

    June 28th, 2013 11:54 am

  7. Skippy

    Never let the clown behind you drive your car. Frankly, what’s behind you is none of your business. I prefer to slow down when a moron has glued himself to my bumper. The closer he gets, the slower I go. I have been known to come to a near stop rather than be pushed into a frontend collision.

    June 28th, 2013 11:57 am

  8. Gregory Smith

    Hmm, and here I thought simply throwing my excess change out the window was the best way to remove them. Moving at 45 or 50 mph and having a few loose pieces of change hit their windshield…
    …of course I’m not serious, as this would shatter their windshield and leave them blinded. I would let them pass, because a lot of them will run out of talent, such as happened the other day on Todd Rd.
    Toyota Tundra driver practicing for NASCRAP blew past me, took the 90 degree right, and promptly drove it into the ditch.

    June 28th, 2013 12:05 pm

  9. tom

    It’s amazing that someone has to write in and ask this question. Do we lose all common sense? How did we pass the driver’s exam? Calling 911 because you feel someone is driving too close? Not knowing to pull over?

    This person should not have a drivers license.

    June 28th, 2013 12:08 pm

  10. Bernard Shakey

    I loathe tailgaters. Especially when I’m driving the speed limit or 5 mph over and they are 1 foot from my bumper. Plus many times there are several cars in front of me and once the tailgater gets around me, she will still have several more cars in her way. Here’s my advice to tailgaters: leave sooner. It’s not my fault you’re running late.

    June 28th, 2013 1:22 pm

  11. bill

    I’d appreciate Officer Sloat’s feedback on this.

    The inquiry was made by myself. There truly was nowhere to move out of the persons way safely, I would have needed to drastically applied my brakes to be ‘out of the lane’. I received a speeding ticket, I would admit I went to 5mph over the posted. When receiving the ticket, the officer asked if I knew how fast I was going, I replied that I didn’t and was more scared of the driver behind me (he cut me off and would not listen). After receiving the ticket, I said thank you for getting the person (off my tail) but again was cut off. He would not listen to anything. The person that was being aggressive behind me was also ticketed.

    I was told he caught me on radar, but when I asked to see it, he refused.

    June 28th, 2013 1:41 pm

  12. David Sheridan

    Get yourself a bumper sticker like this one.

    June 28th, 2013 1:53 pm

  13. Tri0de

    If I don’t have my headlights on, then I turn them on, so the think I hit my brakes.

    then I downshift, so as to slow down without hitting my brakes.

    It that doesn’t get the message across, then I brake. Hard.

    However.. I *always* pull over, use the turnout, or otherwise give them any opportunity to pass ASAP; but if that ain’t good enough for them then bring it on, ther is no shame in tormenting an A-H.

    Can’t shoot ‘em, can try to give them a heart attack.

    June 28th, 2013 2:20 pm

  14. Jessica

    I’m shocked and appalled by the defense of tailgaters in this comment section. There’s no excuse for tailgating. It’s idiotic.

    June 28th, 2013 2:51 pm

  15. Jon Sloat

    It is up to the officer if he wants to let you see the radar or not, as there is no legal requirement to show the offender. My policy has always been to let them see it if we are in a safe location to do that because it requires getting the driver out of the car, (the radar units are mounted in the patrol cars.) The treatment as you describe it is rude to say the least. The CHP expects our officers to treat the public with courtesy and respect no matter what the situation. If such treatment by one of our oficers was brought to our attention it would be addressed.

    June 28th, 2013 3:33 pm

  16. Carla

    Bill..I agree with Officer Sloat..I had a experience with a rude CHP officer at the RP office..I went online to the CHP website and filed a complaint..my complaint was promptly and respectfully addressed…made me had more faith in the CHP for sure. I drive 101 to San Rafael everyday in the early am and I always think everyday how the CHP can make lots of money and get all those tailgaters..drivers with one car light and unsafe drivers in general out there..but unfortunately I never see anybody..too bad too because it is scary out there!

    June 28th, 2013 7:03 pm

  17. John

    If I’m going the speed limit or slightly above I simply ignore the tailgater entirely. If I have five cars behind me I pull over at the next safe and available pullout. Done.

    June 28th, 2013 8:36 pm

  18. jeff

    1. A slow moving vehicle will not make you late for work or otherwise ruin your day.
    2. Keep your eyes focused on the road ahead and ignore the flies buzzing around your @$$.

    June 30th, 2013 9:18 am

  19. Amy Long

    Tri0de you are making an already dangerous situation even worse. If you are found to intentionally slam on your breaks you could be held liable and here you are on a public forum admitting that you have no problem slamming on your brakes. How childish and irresponsible. Be the better driver, and leave the games at home.

    Skippy you are also creating problems with your tactics. Take the officer’s advice and simply pull over when it’s safe.

    July 11th, 2013 8:35 am

  20. Steve

    Sonoma County has the worst drivers on the planet, and this list of comments proves it. Bill, if you can’t handle a tailgater, you should sell the car and get a bus pass.

    July 16th, 2013 9:52 pm

  21. Janet Ellis

    Regarding tailgaters, if it’s night and there is no turnout available, I try to ignore them by flipping my rear view mirror so I don’t have to see their headlights, proceed at an acceptable speed and pull out when possible. If during the day, ignore as much as possible and do the above. If there is a stop light and they are racing to make it, most times I arrive there while they are still sitting at the light!

    July 19th, 2013 2:11 pm

  22. Nancy

    I saw a very funny bumper sticker a long time ago about tailgaters that went like this:

    Bumper to bumper
    Butt to butt
    Get off my ass
    You crazy nut!

    LOL – that pretty much sums it up nicely. I HATE tailgaters with a passion!

    November 22nd, 2013 6:27 pm

Submit Your Comments


Required, will not be published