Dear Mary Pat,
I am a very safe driver, but in terms of the “rules of the road,” not annoyingly so (I don’t drive under the speed limit). With fall here and darkness coming earlier, I tend to drive pretty cautiously to lessen my risk of hitting wildlife. I know other people are not this way, so I’ve developed a new habit – if I’m driving and someone is on my tail, I will pull onto the side of the road (into a parking spot) once I arrive in the next town so they can pass. I then get back onto the road and continue on my way. My main reason is that if I have to brake quickly to successfully avoid wildlife, I do not want to be rear-ended by someone following too close. This has been successful up until last week. I pulled to the side of the road and let the individual pass. I noticed they began to slow down, so I distanced myself thinking, “Maybe they understand now!” However, shortly after, they pulled to the side of the road, let me pass, and then began following me closely. I’m trying to be a polite and stress-free driver. Am I wrong in my new safety method? And if not, what can I do if this happens again?
Deer Don’t Stop For Me
Fish Creek, Wis.
Dear Deer Don’t Stop for Me,
You are absolutely right to exercise caution and leave a good distance between cars in front of and behind you. Not only are you exercising caution, you are following the law.
Here is what the WI DOT website says about tailgating:
Wisconsin law is clear on tailgating: “The operator of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”
[Side note: There is another definition of tailgating that can be found at any home game at Lambeau Field, but I’m fairly certain we have a county full of experts on this subject already.]
The person that began following you was clearly a passive aggressive person and I do not recommend changing your driving habits based on one rude jerk. Go the speed limit when the weather calls for it and go under the speed limit when it’s snowing, sleeting, raining and during hunting season. You can’t always avoid an accident, but your driving habits will certainly go a long way in preventing most of them.