It’s happened to everyone: You glance up at your rearview mirror. A car has appeared behind you out of nowhere and is closing in fast. Soon, it’s right on your bumper. In the mirror, it seems like the car must be only inches away from yours. You try to move out of the way, but there’s nowhere to go.
Somehow, the car seems to get even closer to yours. If the car ahead of you stops and you have to brake, you’re going to get rear-ended. Finally, a lane opens up and you’re able to move out of the tailgater’s way. The car speeds by, only to follow too close behind the car that was in front of you.
Why do drivers do this?
The Dangers Of Narcissistic Drivers
An article from Psychology Today reveals some of the factors that make people drive aggressively. Aggressive driving includes not only tailgating, but speeding, blocking traffic, making obscene gestures at other drivers and other similar behavior. Not surprisingly, studies showed that younger drivers tended to be more aggressive behind the wheel. Studies also showed that men were more likely than women to drive aggressively. But the strongest correlation was between narcissism and aggressive driving.
Drivers who scored higher on a narcissism assessment were more likely to engage in dangerous behaviors like tailgating on the road. Narcissists are defined as people who have trouble empathizing with others and who feel entitled. On the road, they feel entitled to the right of way, and if they don’t get it, they may be driven into what psychologists refer to as a narcissistic rage, which can then manifest in aggressive driving behavior. About half of all car accidents are tied to tailgating and other forms of aggressive driving, so this is a big deal.
What To Do When A Car Is Following Too Close?
It’s important not to try to teach the tailgater a lesson by slowing down or slamming on the brakes, as that could cause the situation to escalate or lead to a car crash. Instead, you should stay calm and move over to another lane as soon as possible. While this behavior can be frustrating and may understandably make you angry, it is best to do what is necessary to keep yourself and your other passengers safe.