Holly's Mid-term Report on Tailgaiting Behavior: Fair or Unfair?

Tailgating Behavior:
Fair or Unfair?

My Table of Contents

  • Instructions for Report
  • Introduction
  • Tailgating Behaviors: Thoughts from prior generations
  • Is Tailgaiting Right?
  • Moral Implications to Tailgating
  • My Own Behavior
  • Conclusion
  • Future Generations
  • Epilogue

  • Introduction

    Okay you Rainbow fans, this is not the web page you were looking for.This type of tailgating has to do with cars, trucks, and vans, but not in the way you all are thinking of. No, the definition does not include camping out, beers, pupus, friends,sporting events, and having a good time.This type of tailgating is not meant to be fun,it's when a driver drives too close to another driver on the road

    According to Dr. James, tailgating is following too close to another car with the intention to coerce or punish the other driver when you think they have done something wrong to you.

    To give you a better understanding of it, let me give you a hypothetical situation. Let's pretend you are driving on the freeway going 60mph and someone cuts you off. Moreover, the person does not signal to warn you he/she is going to cut in front of you. The driver also decides to drive 50mph, therefore, you have to brake to avoid hitting him. You are now upset at the driver in front of you, so in order for you to get him back you follow him close enough to read when his registration sticker expires. So, according to Dr. James's definition, you are guilty of tailgating because you were trying to get back at the other driver.

    Using the hypothetical situation, try to imagine how you would feel if the situation was real. Try to imagine your behaviors involved, such as, your feelings, thoughts, and acts, because that is what we will be looking at in this report.

    First of all, let me begin by explaining what I mean by driving behavior. There are three domains to driving behavior.

    1. The affective domain, a person's feelings and motives.

    2. The cognitive domain, a person's thoughts and judgements.

    3. The sensorimotor domain, a person's actions (sensory input and motor ouput).

    All three domains are present in any driving behavior, therefore it is important to address and remember them.

    Thoughts From Prior Generations

    Jae Isa G1

    Jae Isa defines tailgating as driving extremely close to the car in front of you. She feels it is an unjustifiable behavior, regardless of the situation. She also believes tailgating should be more legally enforced to ensure the safety of drivers. She strongly believes that tailgating another driver increases the chance of an accident. Moreover, she feels that tailgating is a type of harassment because one is trying to purposely force themselves on another driver.

    The tailgater, according to Jae Isa, is not only trying to harass the driver in front, but is also invading into the other person's personal space. Although there may be no laws on personal space on the roads, Jae Isa feels that some drivers may feel their personal space is being invaded and violated, and therefore, it may ilicit fear, anxiety, and tension in the driver and create a more dangerous situation.

    Jae did not give a stiuation when she felt enough resentment towards another driver to tailbate, but, after reading Jae's report, one can feel the anger and resentment she feels against tailgaters. It is also clear that she feels that tailgating is morally wrong.

    Laura Izutsu G1

    Laura Izutsu feels everyone tailgates, and some people just don't realize they're doing it. She too believes that the only way to stop tailgaters is to enforce a stricter law against it. She feels people don't usually think of tailgating as a serious problem or breaking the law because law enforcers do not address it as a serious issue. She states that she does not know anyone who received a ticket for tailgating, therefore, it seems like a less serious issue than speeding on the roads. She also states that even if there was a strict law against tailgating, she thinks it would still occur, but not as openly and freely. Unlike Jae Isa, Laura Izutsu does not believe tailgaiting is a moral issue, especially since she herself is a tailgater. She states that when she tailgates another car she finds herself to be more cautious of the other cars on the road. Her reason for tailgating is that she does not like to cruise to places, especially if she's in a hurry and/or has been in traffic for a while.

    Ryan Mitsui G4

    Ryan Mitsui admits that he was a driver who tailgated to punish the other driver for doing him wrong. In his report he gives a clear example of his tailgating experience. He writes that he was driving home on the freeway one day, and suddenly seen a truck driving fast in his rear view mirror and at the last minute the driver of the truck cut into the other lane. He said the truck barely missed hitting his car. He got really upset by that and decided to to get back at the other driver for doing him wrong and for disregarding that he was also on the freeway. Therefore, he got back at the other driver by chasing him on the freeway and tailgating him at a speed of 75mph. Although Ryan Mitsui is guilty of being a tailgater, he believes that tailgating is a moral issue. He said that after the situation on the freeway he thought about it and realized it was not worth the danger he could have gotten himself into. He says he no longer tailgates people, and he does not get bothered if someone tailgates him . WOW, how Psychology on Driving can reform a person!!! :)

    Kathy Teruya G6

    Kathy Teruya believes that if a tailgater succeeds in getting away with their behavior it reinforces their actions to continue to do it. For example, if a tailgater follows a car that drives too slow and the slow vehicle moves out of the way, it reinforces the tailgater's behavior because he got his way by tailgating. Moreover she does not believe that being a tailgater is fair, morally right, or can be justifiable in any way.

    In Her report, Kathy Teruya recalls an incident when she was being tailgated. One day, she was driving in traffic, and was trying to merge onto the freeway, but the traffic was moving slowly with cars trying to get onto the freeway and cars trying to get off the freeway. She was trying to merge into the lane, but there was not much space between cars. Therefore, when traffic came to a halt, there wasn't much space to react. Although she stopped in time and had enough space in front of her to not hit the other car, the cars behind her did not have enough space to make a complete stop, therefore, causing a four car accident.

    Although Kathy admits to have tailgated on couple occassions, she is not proud of her actions. She believes a driver should not take the law into their own hands, especially since there are other alternatives an upset driver could do instead of tailgating. For example, if you have a bad driving behavior you can (should) have a stress ball in your car. So, instead of squeezing your car on another person's bumper you can squeeze your anger into the stress ball. (hmmm....that's a thought isn't it?)

    Alan Furukawa G2

    Alan Furukawa feels that many people who tailgate are unaware of it, since he believes it is an unconscious act to keep up with traffic. However, he admits to being a tailgater who is totally aware of his actions and motives. He said he consciously tailgates when someone cuts him off while he is driving. The reason why he does it is because he feels he needs to let the other person know he's upset, so in other words, to punish the other driver. The other reason why he does it is because he feels he needs to take the law in his own hands, in a sense, and teach the other driver a lesson on driving etiquette. Nonetheless, he does believe that tailgating is morally wrong becuase it is inconsiderate, especially since you don't give the other driver their space on the road. Moreover, he states that driving too close to the person in front of you can be dangerous on the road, especially if the person your tailgating decides to retaliate against you for driving too close.

    Is Tailgating Right?

    After reading through the prior generations reports on tailgating, I believe their general feelings toward tailgating prior to their reports were not taken into consideration very much. It also appears that most of them did not find it to be an issue they really gave much thought to. However, through the reports, I believe there is a general feeling and agreement that tailgating can be serious, harmful, and/or dangerous, not only to the driver who's being tailgated, but also to the tailgater, and the other drivers on the road.

    I agree withJae Isa that tailgating can be a moral issue, especially if it's a conscious act, since it can ilicit fear, anxiety, and tension. I remember an incident when I was driving home on the freeway going about 60mph and the car behind me was tailgating me. When I noticed him behind me, I immeditely looked at my speedometer because I thought I was driving too slow, but I noticed I was going above the speed limit. However, it made me nervous that he was driving so close behind me that my first impulse was to drive faster because I did not want to upset him anymore by my "so-called slow driving." Therefore, thinking back on the situation, tailgating can be very dangerous because I could've got into an accident since I was too preoccupied about the tailgater and was not paying much attention to the road and the other cars around me.

    I do not agree with Laura Izutsu's views about tailgating. She believes that tailgating is not a big problem because everyone does it. She states that she tailgates when she's in a hurry or when she's been in traffic for a while. I don't believe these are justifiable reasons for a person to tailgate. I feel by her tailgating under those circumstances she is forcing herself on others, and is not taking control of her own situation. For example, if she's late for an appointment, the car in front of her is not at fault for her impromptness becuase she could leave earlier so she would not have to rush to her destination. Also, she should not take her frustration of being in traffic on other drivers by tailgating, especially since everyone else on the road is probably not happy about the traffic also. (Could you imagine if everyone took their frustrations out in traffic by tailgating? There would always be traffic because no one would let anyone change lanes, no less let anyone on or off the freeway.)

    Ryan Mitsui shares an incident when he purposedly tailgated another car. Although I do not agree with his behavior, I don't blame him for doing it because I too would've probably been upset if I thought another car was going to hit me due to reckless behavior. Nonetheless, Ryan does admit he was consciously forcing his will over the other driver by tailgating becuase he felt the driver was doing him wrong and not respecting him on the road. By looking at this situation, I believe that tailgating is a way to get back at the person you feel disrepected you on the road. However, by tailgating you are doing the samething the other driver did to you, and that is behaving disrepectfully. As the saying goes, "two wrongs does not make a right."

    I agree with Kathy Teruya that drivers should find alternative ways to take their stress and frustrations out while driving. It is a good idea to carry a stress ball in the car to squeeze or make animal noises instead of tailgating and cussing at the other drivers, because tailgating can be dangerous. In her report, Kathy Teruya explained how tailgating caused her to be in an accident. When she was trying to merge on the freeway in traffic, cars were tailgating eachother because they did not want to let other cars cut in front of them, therefore not allowing much space for braking, and the result was a four car accident. I believe this is a good example of how some drivers try to force their will on other drivers, because they do not allow enough space in front of them to brake, therefore, they incur their selfish motives on the driver in front of them by not only tailgating, but also by getting into an accident.

    Alan Furukawa openly admits that he is a tailgater who is consciously aware of his motives. He said he does it to get back at the other driver who had done him wrong. I agree with Alan that there are times when I tailgate a person and I am totally aware I am doing it. However, there are other times when I don't realize I am doing it, and it is only brought to my attention if I have a passenger in the car with me and they say something to me about driving too close to the other car. Therefore , I believe it depends on what type of mood a person is in while tailgating. For example, if a person is consciously imposing his will on other drivers by tailgating I think that is unfair and dangerous, but if a person is unconsciously tailgating a person without any bad motives behind it, but is only trying to keep up with traffic, I don't think that is totally unfair. Nonetheless, the driver that is being tailgated is unaware that the tailgater is not doing it on purpose and may get upset that he is driving to close behind him. Therefore, regardless of the situation, I believe it is right ot say that tailgating behavior is forcing one's will over other drivers.

    Moral Implications to Tailgating

    Is tailgating a moral, ethical and spiritual issue? Is it justifiable? or Is is it no big deal?

    I really don't know the "right" answers to those questions. I don't think there are many people who think about tailgating and the effects it has on other drivers because it's not a topic that many people talk about. Speaking for myself, I know I never had a conversation with anyone discussing the issues and morals of tailgating. Although road rage is a serious issue due to all the accidents that occur in a day, I don't believe it's a subject people talk about freely. The only real time you hear about road rage on television is when it makes headlines on the news, and that is usually only fatalities.

    In my opinion, I do believe tailgating is a moral issue, if tailgating is defined as following too close to another car with the intention to coerce or punish the other driver when you think they have done something wrong to you. Given that definition, tailgating appears to be not only morally wrong, but also ethically wrong because there is an evil intention behind it, either to force a behavior on another driver and/or to cause harm or distress.

    I don't think drivers have a right to behave immorally behind a wheel to other drivers because being in a car does not protect you or make you stronger, better, or give you the right to act rude and inappropriate to other people. I think there are some people who behave differently when they are in a car compared to when they are not. I think people are much nicer to strangers when they are not driving (or in a car) because they are not shielded in a vehicle, and they are able to make more eye-contact.

    For instance, (this is a funny story) one day I was driving home and a car was tailgating me for a while before he cut me off. When he passed me, he made sure I noticed him and how upset he was by my so-called slow driving. When I arrived home I was walking my dogs, and I noticed the person that tailgated me lived in my neighborhood, and was outside working on his car. My first reaction was to ignore him because I did not want him to notice me, since I felt he intimidated me and was not worth giving the time of day to. However, as I was approaching his house, I noticed he was looking at me in a friendly way, and as I got closer to his home he gave a pleasant hello and smile. He seemed like a totally different person, compared to when he was driving. His facial expression did not look tense and bothered, but rather relaxed and friendly. Therefore, that is why I believe that cars and driving turn people into another person, and make them behave in ways they normally would not.

    I also believe tailgating is spiritually wrong because it also deals with our morals. Tailgaiting or any behavior is spiritual because it's a guiding force to what our behaviors are, and it is what attracts a person to act and/or behave in a certain way (to tailgate or not to tailgate).

    My Own Behavior

    I must admit that I am one of those drivers who tailgate others for many different reasons. Sometimes I tailgate when I am in a rush to get to a certain destination or when I feel someone did something intentionally wrong to me, such as cutting me off and/or drive too slow in front of me after they cut in front of me. Those instances when I tailgate other drivers on purpose, I am totally aware and conscious of what I am doing. However, there are times when I am unconsciously tailgating someone, and it is brought to my attention if I have someone in the car with me.

    A Mini-Mini Experiment

    I performed a mini-mini experiment on myself so I could explain my thoughts,feelings,and acts more clearly. The purpose of my experiment was to try to be aware of when I tailgated and/or when I wanted to tailgate another car. I did this for 2 days, and I recorded my thoughts, feelings, and acts while I was driving on a mini cassette recorder.

    Day 1
    I was driving home from school on H1, and was driving in the far left lane, and was following a car that was travelling about 55mph. Being in the passing lane, I thought he was driving a bit too slow. At first, I was upset at his slow driving, and then I slowly began to feel he was being inconsiderate, and was driving slow on purpose to spite me(that thought made me more upset). I also felt very impatient and found myself to be sighing a lot because I felt disgusted. I also found myself pressing and releasing my gas pedal more because I would speed up to his car and release the gas to back away. I tailgated him for a while, but was able to finally change lanes. The reason why I had to follow him was because I could not change lanes since he was driving slower than the cars in the right lane, and therefore, I could not accelerate enough to change lanes(and that made me feel more anger towards the driver).

    Day 2
    On the second day I did my experiment, I was again driving home on H1, however, this time I was driving my boyfriend's car and not my own. I was again in the far right lane following another driver who was driving too slow. However, this time I chose not to tailgate him because I felt I needed to be a responsible driver since I was not driving my own car. Although I did not tailgate the driver, I still had many negative thoughts, and feelings, but decided not to act upon it. I felt upset at the driver for driving in the passing lane, and felt he should drive in the right lane. This time I did not think he was doing it on purpose since I was not tailgating him, but I did think he was being totally inconsiderate.


    Although I am guilty of being a tailgater, I do believe it is morally, ethically, and spiritually wrong, and connot be justifiable in any way. From my mini-mini experiment, I learned that as a driver, I have a choice to tailgate another driver, and when I tailgate someone, it's because I choose to do it, since no one else can force me, not even the drivers who drive too slow. From doing the experiment, I am now more aware of the way I drive, and how ridiculous it is for me to over react to a slow driver, especially since I listened to myself on tape. Also, from reading the generations reports and doing my own, I learned that there are other alternatives to tailgating and decided to use Kathy Teruya's suggestion to carry a "stress ball" in the car for times when other drivers make me upset. Thinking back upon my experiment, I feel I wasted a lot of energy on the slow drivers, and feel I could have wasted those energies on doing something more productive.

    Future Generations

    Hello Future Generation Student!!

    I hope my report was able to help you to do your own.

    I have 2 suggestion to you on how you can make a good report. The first suggestion is to start on your report EARLY and not wait till the last minute to do it. A report like this takes about 25 hours to complete, at least mines did, and I am still not totally satisfied with it.
    The second suggestion I have is that although a mini-mini experiment was not part of the instructions from
    Dr. James, I think it is good to do one because it not only allows you to explain your feeling, thoughts, and acts more clearly, but it is also a self assessment. If you do one, it hopefully can change the way you drive, if you tailgate, because it totally helped me see my flaws and how crass I was behaving.

    Good Luck on your report!!!


    From doing this report on tailgating, I have learned, that as a driver, I have other alternatives besides tailgating, such as, carrying a stress ball. I have also leaned that I have a choice, and that choice is either to tailgate or not to tailgate another driver. Also, from reading the past generations reports and from doing my own report, I now understand how tailgating can be a moral, ethical and spiritual issue. Therefore, since I like to believe I have good morals and ethics, I no longer choose to tailgate other drivers, especially since it can not be justified in any way.

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