One of the things I dislike the most about driving is people who tailgate me. Not only is it dangerous, but I think it also leads to unfair treatment of the driver being tailgated.

For example, when the car behind you is pressing so close that he's practically kissing your tailpipe, the natural thing is to do as a good driver is to add some speed to increase the gap since he's not doing his part. But then you get so focused about the car behind that you stopped checking your own speed. Next thing you know your more than 10% above the speed limit. Your car gets flashed by some stealth speed camera, and a $200 speeding fine winds up in your mailbox.

The person who tailgates you doesn't get punished at all. I mean there are rules regarding accidents where the tailgater is at fault if there is a collision, but until a collision occurs they have nothing to lose by giving you no space. They are gaming the system, freeloading off your fear of a collision and confident they won't actually hit your car, coercing you to speed up.

Some days I try to reciprocate the rudeness by slowing down even more to 10-15kmph below the speed limit, hoping they would simply lose patience and attempt to overtake. But not all roads allow overtaking, and in those situations that's when the tension is highest.

To be fair, Adelaide is a very nice place to drive. There is seldom traffic jam (even during peak hours), the roads are wide and intelligently planned, and they are very well maintained, especially in the suburbs. However many of the roads that can be safely driven on at 80kmph seem to have 60kmph limits, usually after a fatal accident has occurred. This amplifies the issue where more people are frustrated at the slow speed, and it nurtures a culture of tailgating which in turn cause more accidents. It's a vicious cycle.

I do my best not to be part of the problem. Whenever I drive, I make it a point to maintain the recommended gap from the car in front of me, even if it means driving at 55 on a 60 road. The generous gap does encourage some drivers to squeeze in with their weave-and-overtake tactics, but at least I can control how far I wish to be behind them rather than going eye for an eye. It is also my wishful thinking that the road rules will in time evolve to deal with tailgaters better, and those who continue to try to take advantage of the system will eventually be punished, but hopefully not in blood.

Or better yet; rise of the driverless vehicles? #ASAP