Tailgating in France

<Tailgating quadbike in the Aravis area of the French Alps>If you’ve ever driven in France, this photo will not surprise you. It’s something I just can’t get used to — tailgating. As you can see, even quad bikes tailgate. Apologies for the out-of-focus photo (I snapped it while driving around bendy French roads), but hopefully you get the idea.

Sitting on someone’s tail is the norm in France. If I need to stop suddenly, I can only hope the tailgating driver behind me is strapped in with a seatbelt and saved by an airbag at impact. Cars at least have some built-in safety features. But what does this guy on the quad bike have as protection? If the car in front of him stops suddenly, will his helmet save him as he skids across the road leaving torn clothes behind him? He sat on my tail for some time before overtaking, and the constant buzzing of his engine just added to that nagging feeling that he wanted to get past. I wasn’t going slowly, but I wasn’t going at Savoyarde speed (suicide fast) either. So, what’s the best ting to do? Part of me wants to wave the guy down and tell him off, mum style, and part of me knows that shrugging is probably the only thing I really can do. What do you do?


I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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9 comments on “Tailgating in France
  1. Tailgating seems to have worse, Autoroute driving, especially in rush-hours, is fraught with danger as long streams of cars hog the fast lane with barely a one car space between them, making overtaking when the inevitable truck overtakes another and hogs the middle lane for several minutes.

    The “one for danger, two for safety” white lines on the left verge are no longer promoted in adverts as a guideline and I have never seen police move to reduce the fools in suicide convoys.

    My solution is to get an ancient 404 pick-up truck, wear a beret and pebble thick glasses and hunch over the wheel like a demented frog – everyone then gives me oodles of room, especially if I have a hillbilly registration number.

  2. what do I do?
    Brake hard.
    They don’t do it as often, for one reason or another!

  3. sandie says:

    I turn on my windscreen washers!

  4. Jayne says:

    Well I used to brake sharply to give them the message to back off, but that was in the old tank the Pajero, still only had limited effect tho’ – some of them must think its funny to harasse a 2 ton 4×4 with their tin-foil cars. So now with newer car I just ease off and let them pass and then wonder (hopefully or is that misplaced?) if I will see them further on squashed on the road or with legs sticking out (head mulched) in the back of another car. If they have a death wish so be it, so long as they don’t involve any other innocent car. And they wonder why french road deaths are still one of the highest in Europe? Its not just drink driving thats the problem.

  5. I find this behaviour terrifying!! I’m currently taking driving lessons {as my Canadian license is not valid in France… grrrr..} & I’m amazed at how many drivers follow me way too closely. Can’t they see that I’m in an “auto-école” car???! I’m sure they’re doing it on purpose to make my blood pressure sky-rocket. Oh & the other day a guy on a scooter passed me on the right. In a bike lane. Le sigh.

  6. Wendy says:

    “Le sigh” hehe! Emily, it’s ridiculous that Americans and Canadians have to get their licence again when I switched my Aussie one for a Brit one years ago which allows me to drive here too (despite being on the other side of the road!).

    I did try the braking thing on one woman who got aggressive, overtook me, then slowed to second gear (in a 90 zone), speeding up and slowing down: she clearly didn’t understand my point and her aggression both behind and in front of my has put me off ever doing that again.

    I’m liking the windcreen wiper trick, Sandie! And if all else fails, Tony’s idea seems like a winner.

  7. Emm says:

    I hate it when people tailgate me and I hate being in a car when the driver is doing it too! Back when I first met my husband, we were in a convoy on a night out and he was tailgating my best friend. She got so upset, she got out of the car at a red traffic light and came to his window and slapped him. It was so funny, I don’t think he ever tailgated again!

  8. Bob Carey says:

    I usually dab the brakes and if they still persist I indicate and stop. which forces them to overtake me,

  9. Gareth says:

    At night time put your fog lamps on. Got a Discovery 4×4 so its just at their eye line. This throws them into a spin of confusion. They want to be so close, but the lights are sooo bright. This will normally fox your average Frechie… Bless em!

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by wendyhollands.com, my other site.

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