Even at 5:20am, I get tailgated.

I was driving to work on Curran Highway in North Adams, and sure enough a truck gets right on my butt.  My first thought was “why”?  There’s two lanes, just pass me.  Then, I started to get angry.

I wanted to do a brake check.  If you’re not familiar, that’s when you pump the brakes over and over, or even hit them hard to try and get the tailgater to back off and send a message.  I’m glad I didn’t though, because not only would that have made the situation more dangerous, but brake checking is something you could get in trouble for in Massachusetts.

Here’s the thing:  Brake checking, in and of itself, isn’t illegal in Massachusetts.  However, brake checking is considered reckless driving, which is illegal in Massachusetts, according to General Laws, Chapter 90, Section 24.

And I get that.  Because while the tailgater is driving recklessly, not keeping a safe distance, and pressuring you, you’ll also be creating danger.  If you brake check, the tailgater could hit you, pushing you into oncoming cars, or the tailgater might swerve into traffic and injure or kill someone themselves.

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So, how do you deal with a tailgater?

-Keep calm and carry on.  The first thing you should do is remind yourself to stay calm.  Not the easiest thing to do, but it’s the safest thing.  Take a deep breath, drive at a comfortable speed for yourself, and don’t speed up.

-Switch lanes.  When it’s safe, switching lanes will usually get the tailgater off you.  Pulling into a parking lot, or, if it’s safe, pulling to the side of the road are also good options.

-Avoid confrontation.  Trust me, I would love to have cursed out and given the finger to whomever was tailgating me this morning.  But, this just makes things worse.  Remember, it’s not just about yourself.  By angering the tailgater, you’re potentially putting even more drivers at risk by making the tailgater angrier and even more aggressive.

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Tailgating puts many people at risk on the road, so we have to remember, even if we are tailgated, to stay calm and not make things worse.  I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s also the right thing to do.

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.