Why Do You Tailgate?

Today I am addressing all Truck Drivers.

You have a most challenging occupation. It seems like everything is out of your control. While you can often choose your dispatch, you can never control the vehicles around you. Other drivers (especially automobile operators) simply don’t understand what it is that you are trying to do. Of course, we know you are trying to deliver your freight safely, stress-free and on time. You have never gotten up and gone to work, planning to have a crash. That would be crazy and you would never do such a thing.

Yet when you tailgate and continually put you and your truck into situations that you know are unsafe, it is similar to planning to have a collision. Each day, maybe dozens of times per day, many Drivers find themselves tailgating. They make excuses for themselves and others regarding their actions. I hear, “It is not my fault. The car took my space away! What, do you want me to do, drive in reverse? Come-on, I have to move forward, or I don’t get paid. You just don’t understand today’s driving”. Does this sound familiar?

I know that being a professional truck driver on today’s highway is one of the most challenging occupations. Most Drivers agree that with today’s distracted driving, it seems like everyone on the road is driving with their head attached to a cellular phone. It appears that no one is looking ahead at the pavement. Even if they are looking forward, their mind is not thinking about driving and is off into some other place. It seems like nobody is driving – everyone is on autopilot.

Well if that is true or even just partially the truth, then why do we tailgate? We, as the professional driver, must protect ourselves and drive in a defensive mindset at all times. If we are involved in a crash, even a minor event, it is stressful, time-consuming and it costs money for us (the driver) and our company. Also, the costs of delay in freight shipments are very high and this doesn’t even take into account the other effects such as the slowdown or highway closures and how that affects the overall economy – all the families and companies with people and employees being late or not showing up at all for work that day.

So why do we tailgate? Ask yourself that question and ask it every day that you are driving. And then you can ask yourself, is it worth it?

Be safe out there!

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.