I recently sat down and watched that "instant karma" road rage video. You know the one: some woman in Florida is being tailgated by a guy in a Ford Super Duty, so she pulls out a camera to get him on tape. Then the tailgater drives up next to her and flies into an uncontrollable rage, presumably upon seeing that she's filming the whole thing in portrait mode.
It's a great video, and if you haven't watched it, I highly recommend doing so. This is largely because it poses a lot of interesting discussion topics, such as:
1. Why does the woman have a neon vest on her passenger seat?
2. Does she just drive around with this vest, in case she's called to work parking lot security?
3. Is "parking lot security" a real job?
4. It should be.
The video also raises several other tremendously important points, such as, for example, why the woman felt it would be appropriate to drive roughly 11 miles per hour in the left lane and film herself doing it. And it provides some vital tips to drivers who flip off other road users, the most important of which – and stay with me here, because this is a big one – is: While flipping off another road user, don't crash your own vehicle.
But I think the real lesson of this video is simple: when you're being tailgated by another driver, just move over and let the tailgater pass.
Now, before we get started here, I think it's important to mention that I know precisely what you're thinking. And that is: "Of course you should just let the other driver pass! That's good defensive driving! Why would I ever inconvenience another person; a fellow human being, just trying to go about his day?!"
And this is all well and good. But the problem is that when faced with a real-life tailgating situation, nobody actually thinks like that. Instead, what happens is that the guy in front sees the guy in back closing in, and he starts to get these really angry thoughts, such as: Look at this asshole! I'm going to slow down just to piss him off! Meanwhile, the guy in back sees the guy in front slowing down, and he starts to get his own set of really angry thoughts, such as: What a jerk! Can't this asshole see I'm in a hurry?
And then they both get as close as possible without actually colliding, because then they'd have to get out, exchange insurance information and reveal that they're both soft-spoken middle managers who were driving to the grocery store for some hair gel.
But, of course, sometimes they aren't soft-spoken middle managers. And that's what makes this whole angry tailgating business so dangerous.
As an example, I return to our video, which displays a fairly high level of fearlessness from the woman doing the filming. I say this because the guy behind her was tailgating… while driving a Ford Super Duty… with a push bar… and a lift kit… in Florida. In other words: the question here is not "Does this man own a gun?" but rather: "Is he currently too intoxicated to aim properly?" When you enrage someone like this on the road, you'd better be hoping that the answer is yes.
Now, I'm aware that this woman found many Internet advocates who pointed out that she was, in fact, not doing anything wrong. Their argument is that basically she was cruising along, minding her own business, hanging out with her safety vest, and then this big angry pickup driver showed up on her bumper, asked her to begin filming, and crashed intentionally so they could both become YouTube celebrities. I'm told they will be on the Ellen DeGeneres show next week performing a couple of Tim McGraw covers.
No, I'm just kidding. No one's going on the Ellen show; not even well-respected Jalopnik writers with self-published books that have sold literally tens of copies, at last count. I know this because I keep e-mailing them, asking to be on the show, and they always reply and say of course I can come to the show, and then they send me a link to a website that has tickets.
Anyway: what people are actually saying is that this woman was minding her business, and passing these large trucks, and then this jerk just appeared on her bumper, so why should she have to move? After all, this is America, which means she has a God-given right to drive wherever she wants, whenever she wants, however she wants, while angry Super Duty guy has a God-given right to flip her off for it.
But my point is that it doesn't matter if you're doing anything wrong or not. If someone is tailgating you, just move out of the way. Avoid the hassle. Avoid the conflict. Avoid the rage.
Then again, I bet this woman is making a fortune off YouTube royalties. In that case, carry on, citizen: keep baiting angry tailgaters. Just make sure to capture it on film. And not in portrait mode.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.