Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

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Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by 0281-E Stuart » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:56 pm

Hello all,
A question I've often been meaning to ask is: 'how do you deal with tailgaters and undertakers on the public highway?'.
On a daily basis, I find myself being tailgated (likely due to being on 'L' plates, still; though i have passed MOD 1 and MOD 2 is being booked as a matter of urgency). I personally believe, that there is no excuse for a vehicle being sat extremely close to my rear-end. I know a lot of bikers sit in the overtaking position on their motorcycles, and that may lead to a notion of car/van drivers replicating this idea in a rather childlike response. I am not, in any way stating that every motorcyclist has poor following distances, many are great - though i do see this rather often.
Please also be aware, that i constanly maintain the speed limit, and furthermore take up a dominant lane position with a four second (or longer) gap to the vehicle infront of me.

Secondly, in regards to vehicles undertaking, I also aknowledge the fact that a lot of motorcyclists also undertake and weave through moving traffic.
I find myself, when in an outside lane, being undertaken even when maintaining, or doing over the speed limit trying to keep a reasonable distance from the proceeding vehicle to my nearside. I have heard many advanced folk say: "You should always occupy the outside lane, only moving over to let approaching vehicles from the rear past". Please note, despite this, I only occupy an outside lane when needing to do so: filter lane, turning ahead, approaching a round-a-bout, etc.
A trick i've heard used (though this doesn't always work (and sometimes more danger than what I'd be comfortable with, is placing the motorcylce right next to the central broken white - discouraging vehicles from undetaking)).

All advice is greatly appreciated!

Many thanks for reading,

All the best, Stu.
Last edited by 0281-E Stuart on Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by Fleck » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:05 am

Just keep left if you're doing the speed limit and the vehicle will pass you. It's not your job to hold all the traffic up, if they want to speed, let them.
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by Mississippi Bullfrog » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:39 am

If you are only using the right hand lane rather than the empty left lane when necessary, ie - when approaching a right turn - then you'd have a right turn signal on so passing on the left is perfectly usual.

If you're in the right lane when the left lane is empty then a vehicle in the left lane that is going faster than you are is perfectly entitled to maintain their lane and their speed - if that means that pass you then that's just the way it is. If it worries you then stick to the left lane except when overtaking other vehicles. Sitting in the left hand side of the right hand lane puts you in danger both from vehicles passing on your left or right. And on many major roads you'll be running in the grooves worn by trucks.

In terms of tailgaters - if you're sticking to the outer lane when the inner lane is empty they will do it in an attempt to encourage you to move to the left lane so they can pass on the right.

If they are tailgating on a single carriageway, or on a duel carriageway / motorway when you are using the appropriate lane then usually a very gentle slowing down will encourage them to back off. Motorists tend to bully smaller bikes so be aware of where you are putting yourself in that situation.
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by Diko » Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:24 am

The Highway Code states this:-
Overtaking on the nearside (left) is legally acceptable if you are driving on a multi-lane carriageway in congested conditions, and the lane to the left is moving at a faster speed than lanes to the right. In these circumstances overtaking on the left is permissible although extra caution is needed for an awareness of other vehicles moving to the faster lane on the left.

It is also permissible to overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right. Overtaking on the left in these circumstances although permissible is subject to road markings and signs that may suggest otherwise.

Quite clearly you should not overtake on the left. When I am tailgated, in a 30 or 40 zone, I move over to the left and let them pass. I filter past cars at traffic lights to gain the front position, this was taught to us on the Bikesafe course by Police m/c's it is called 'making progress'. I always ride close to the centre of the road, my wheels in the offside wheel track position of cars, I change riding position to the left to give me a good view of whats around a right hand bend then back to my riding position. I have been riding now for over 50 years and biking is not the pleasure it once was. There are an awfull lot of numpties on our roads.
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by Westbeef » Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:37 am

You’re supposed to stick to the inside lane not the outside, I failed my first driving test for doing the exact opposite.
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by Fleck » Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:41 am

Quote "I have been riding now for over 50 years and biking is not the pleasure it once was. There are an awfull lot of numpties on our roads."

I think also... Actually I know, you get less tolerant of others the older you get. (grumpy old men :mrgreen: )
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by someone » Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:36 am

Fleck wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:05 am
Just keep left if you're doing the speed limit and the vehicle will pass you. It's not your job to hold all the traffic up, if they want to speed, let them.
Yes and no.

Another driver's speed is their own issue and you should not be trying to police it, so if they want to pass them let them do so when it is safe. Such as by moving over to the left to give them space.

But you should always put your own safety first, though, which means riding in the appropriate part of the lane for the conditions and not just sitting to the left and waiting for them to go. When you see an appropriate gap and it is safe to do so, then you can move over to let them pass. Do not compromise one hazard (the close driver) for another (poor visibility or road conditions). Also be aware that if you let the first vehicle out like that another close behind it may try to take advantage of the same opportunity, so make sure you do not risk getting stranded out left as conditions change.

Not all close following vehicles want to overtake, though, but many drivers do so because they are arrogant and stupid. In that case it is your job to hold up traffic if they are too close for your own safety.

The Highway Code says that if someone is too close you should slow down gradually to increase the gap. If you do that they either take the hint or they will then look to overtake to get away from you.

But the most important thing is simply to do what is best for your own safety and let everyone else worry about themselves. It is not your job to stop people from speeding, but it is also not your job to help them. People will drive badly and unpredictably no matter what you think or do. And if you leave a safe space for yourself someone will jump in to fill it. So if that means you are repeatedly having to slow down to develop a gap for your self then so be it.

L-plates definitely make all these problems worse. Even on roads where you can go at the road speed, people just see the plate and think you are an obstacle they need to get past. So many times I have had people overtake, move in front, then go slower than I was. But there are still plenty of bad drivers that it does not stop when you are on a faster bike without them.

Honestly I feel like a bus at at times give the number of drivers who jump in front of me, discover I am travelling at the same speed as the vehicle in front of me, so then pull back out literally a second or two later (and with no traffic on the outside lane).

As for undertaking, please not that debate again!

Again though, If people are undertaking it is not your job to stop them, if your trick leads to an accident you will not be given an award from the Queen for your service to the Highway Code, or even a bonus life to replace the one you lost. But if your "discouraging" actions are what causes an accident you could be found responsible for it.

Let the police do the policing, you have enough to worry about keeping yourself safe from others. Focus on that.

It is, though, worth remembering the law proscribes very few aspects of the Highway Code but instead defers to what a reasonable, competent, and safe driver would do. This includes undertaking, which is not a specific offence in any statute. Sitting by a lane divider deliberately causing a hazard to other road users a would fail that test, incidentally. Even without an accident you could be found guilty of an offence if an officer wanted to take action.

Most people agree that if you maintain a constant speed in your lane, and this causes you to pass someone going slower in an outside lane, that then that is a safe and legal manoeuvre. Some pedantically argue you should slow down, but I would say that is more dangerous, and I have never seen an example of a prosecution for undertaking in such a way.

It is also worth noting that the Highway Code only says to stay in the left lane except for overtaking under the entry on motorway driving. It does not say this for dual carriageways, where in some situations the extra lanes are to provide more capacity rather than to just keep the road flowing. So even when moving at road speed it may not be safe for traffic to keep switching between lanes to overtake but each will just move at its own speed.

Roads laws are nuanced to account for the facts that every situation is different because people are unpredictable. But it is almost always obvious when something crosses the line between appropriate to the circumstances and illegal. As a road user you need to balance the interests of yourself and other road users without crossing that line. Sometimes that may mean being liberal with the Highway Code for the sake of safety or common sense.

It never means trying to police other road users unless you have the legal authority to do so. Stop doing that.
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by bonio » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:48 pm

From the post, I guess the OP's question is about riding on a dual carriageway or motorway (since that's where undertaking takes place).

Typically, people tailgate because they want to get past you.

If the traffic is flowing freely enough, and I am basically doing the speed I want and not being slowed down by the traffic ahead, then, when a vehicle comes up behind me and seems to want to go faster, then I will move to the left so they can overtake. (I try to keep to the left when I'm not overtaking, so this doesn't happen often, but it sometimes comes about for one reason or another). It doesn't matter if I'm doing the speed limit or 90mph (not that I would ever do that, officer), if the car or bike wants to go faster, they can. In this situation, if ever I am undertaken by someone, it's because I've been riding badly and not using the lanes correctly.

But if the traffic is holding me up - for example, I'm in a queue of vehicles in the right lane, and all of us are waiting to get past a few slower vehicles half a mile ahead - then if someone is tailgating me, I will usually just ignore them, except I will make sure I don't brake hard and make sure I show my brake lights when I do (the engine braking on the GS is amazing). If I think they're dangerously close, I will move left and let them hit a car rather than me on the bike. If I'm undertaken in this situation, it makes me a bolshy, as I think why can't the person wait in line like everyone else. It would be better if I were a bit more laid back about it.

It may be that you're inviting some tailgating by leaving a 4 second gap. The Highway Code recommends 2 seconds in dry conditions, and I reckon that most drivers cut this down to about one second. So you're leaving 4 times the distance most drivers do. Now imagine a driver coming up behind you, while you're following in a line of traffic (as in the second situation)... seeing this big gap in front of you, they might see this as the first situation wonder why you're not getting out their way to let them overtake. You might try closing that gap up a bit whenever the roads are dry and seeing if you get less hassle. And for sure the L plates aren't going to help; you'll be amazed at the difference once you've got rid of them.
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by Diko » Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:01 am

'Only a fool breaks the two second rule'. Four seconds in bad weather.
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by fullscreenaging » Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:28 am

Diko wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:01 am
'Only a fool breaks the two second rule'. Four seconds in bad weather.
and up to 10 times if you're daft enough to ride in the snow :lol:
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by Ricco1 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:56 pm

If someone is tailgating maintain your speed but feather a brake to show them a brake light. Repeat as necessary, until they get the message.

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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by someone » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:09 pm

bonio wrote:
Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:48 pm
It may be that you're inviting some tailgating by leaving a 4 second gap. The Highway Code recommends 2 seconds in dry conditions, and I reckon that most drivers cut this down to about one second.
Leave a one-second gap and some will still try to take it. I would rather lose a few minutes on a journey from constantly recreating a safe gap from people in front of me than loosing a few months in hospital because I was more concerned with not letting anyone else have enough space.

The "at least a two-second gap" rule is only a minimum to have time to react to the vehicle in front and stop safely. Even aside from the use lengthening of it for weather conditions you also have to consider visibility and the road condition and layout, not to mention confidence in the bike and your own ability. It is also a rule aimed at cars, ignoring that bikers are at greater risk and have more to hazards consider.

For one thing, cars in front can easily hide debris in the middle of a lane which their drivers can easily ignore but would be a hazard on a bike. Personally I like to be able to see a enough clear road in front of me so I can plan rather than react to anything I encounter.
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by bonio » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:18 pm

Two seconds is the recommended gap in the highway code (in the dry), because it gives enough space to react and stop. For example, at 30 mph, the two-second rule puts a gap of 88 feet between you and the car in front. The official stopping distance for 30mph is given as 75 feet, and on a bike with reasonable brakes, and if your reaction time is reasonable, you should be able to stop in under 50 feet*.

All this is for good conditions. If the roads are bad, the recommendation is to leave more room. But the upshot of leaving a bigger gap in front is that people behind you might not see you as part of the queue of traffic: you'll look as if you're detached from the queue, because most drivers bunch up far too close, often leaving a second gap. So the car behind might be more motivated to overtake and perhaps start tailgating.

Of course, it's better to maintain your hap and risk be tailgated than to close the gap ahead and risk being part of pile-up. Better, still, to move the left and let the person go ahead.

* https://www.quora.com/Automotive-Brakes ... plete-halt
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by Throttled » Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:00 am

I deal with all by finding gaps in the traffic so that as much as possible I am riding with space around me. We all have our personal space and get stressed if it is invaded. By looking for gaps I get less stressed.
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Re: Tailgaters, Undertakers & Rule-Breakers!

Post by Mississippi Bullfrog » Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:15 am

Throttled wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:00 am
I deal with all by finding gaps in the traffic so that as much as possible I am riding with space around me. We all have our personal space and get stressed if it is invaded. By looking for gaps I get less stressed.
There is much wisdom in this philosophy. I am trying to discipline myself to ride this way as at the end of the journey I find myself much more chilled than my usual antics.
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