What's the safest way to discourage tailgaters?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 2005

Dear Tom and Ray:

Help! My wife will either kill me or divorce me based on your answer to the following question. I prefer to think that I am a law-abiding citizen, so if the speed limit is 45, I do 45. Usually, this goes on for only a few minutes before I am severely tailgated (less than one car length). The company I work for suggests in its safe-driving course to slow down and allow them to pass. Also, they say to never speed up; it only encourages them to get closer. My wife says to ignore them and just go a little faster than the speed limit. So, my question: Should I pick out my own casket now, or just start collecting the tickets until my license is pulled? Please use a name like Sam or Joe instead of my real name. Thanks! -- Neal

RAY: Wow, Sam or Joe, you're in a tight spot. You have to choose between your wife and the law. I know what I'd say: "Sorry, officer!"

TOM: Actually, you are absolutely entitled to drive at the speed limit, Neal. Those jerks who are tailgating you are the ones who are breaking the law. If there was an accident and they crashed into you, they'd be 100 percent responsible, no matter what the cause.

RAY: And assuming you're in the right-hand lane -- where you're supposed to be when you're not passing -- it's their job to pass you, and leave you alone. You are under absolutely no obligation to speed up or slow down for them. And they have no right to intimidate you.

TOM: So, if it makes you feel any better, you can go to divorce court feeling smug and superior, because you're 100 percent in the right, Neal.

RAY: However, if you're tooling along in the left lane, you're in the wrong. That lane is only for passing, and if someone pulls up behind
you in the left lane, you need to get out of the way immediately -- because you shouldn't even be there in the first place unless you're in the process of passing someone.

TOM: So that solves your legal difficulties, Neal. And I can help you with your marital difficulties, too. When your wife divorces you over this, give me a call. I've got a wonderful cardboard refrigerator box you can live in. It was the settlement from my first divorce.

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