I absolutely hate, hate, hate people who tailgate. There is no reason for it. Let's put aside the fact that it's really dumb and dangerous, it's just plain annoying. Often, you'll get the exact opposite effect of what you're trying to accomplish. You're up someone's ass because you want them to go faster (I guess), but more often than not, you'll just make the driver in front of you nervous or pissed and they'll slow down. I know I do, just to piss you off. Although sometimes I think that maybe it's just the sheep mentality or they maybe haven't mastered the art of setting their own speed rather than following the car in front. However, both of those can be remedied by leaving a little space between you and the car in front.
I have to admit that I am guilty of this on rare occasions. Since I started working closer to home and don't deal with 2+ hours of traffic each day, I have become a much calmer driver, and generally I let things go. However, there are some circumstances where I find myself riding someone's ass. One excellent example is driving in the left-most lane of a five lane highway, such as the 401, and being stuck behind someone driving 100 km/h. I understand that's the limit, but you have to understand that you're in the fast lane, also known as the passing lane, and there is absolutely no reason for you to be there. So, having fully disclosed my own guilt in this area, I will list the times when you should back off and relax a little.
1) Single lane roads. Yes, it does suck when you're stuck behind someone who wants to drive limit or just below on these roads and you don't have another lane to get into, but they are well within their rights and you just have to deal with it or pass using the oncoming lane. Being a douche will not make them drive any faster. Along the same lines, if you're the second car behind the slow driver, do you really think that sitting on the bumper of the car in front of yours will give him the ability to go any faster? Maybe they'll finally learn how to leap frog so that you can put the petal to the metal? I guess it's possible, but not very probable.
2) The right lane. I'm including regular city roads and highways here. There is absolutely never any reason for tailgating in this situation. You have another lane to pass the slowpoke, and if your turn or exit is coming up, tough shit. Relax a little, you'll get there. I have had this happen to me more often that I'd like to recount. I generally drive about 15 km/hr over the limit and I'm almost always in the right lane. Although it doesn't seem that many people are taught that anymore, I was, and for me the left lane, whether on the 401 or Steeles, is for passing or getting ready to make a left turn. I absolutely hate looking in the rearview and seeing not the front end of a vehicle, but your front seat when I'm driving a decent speed in the right lane.
3) Emergency vehicles, large trucks and motorcycles. Emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks need their space, as you never know when the emergency call will come and they may need to back up and turn around to get there. Stop being selfish and think for a moment that it could be your child's life in danger and seconds may make a difference. As for large trucks, that's more about your safety than theirs. Take a look at that truck - he's a lot bigger and stronger than you are. If he kicks back or if a tire or anything else flies off of the back end of it, you have a lot more time to maneuver out of harm's way if there's some space behind his back and your front end. Motorcycles. I just cannot understand this one. I cringe whenever I see this. You do understand that there is a possibility that they'll hit a rock or pothole and fall? How are you going to feel for the rest of your life knowing you ran over and killed a man just because you insisted on driving too closely and could not swerve when he got into a bit of trouble.
I hope that if you are one of those people who feel it's necessary to smell my farts as you drive, you'll think twice. You are not the only person on the road, and although we'd all like to be able to drive as fast as we want, that's just not the case. More and more vehicles are on the road every year, and unfortunately, more and more drivers either are not trained properly, or can't be bothered to even try to drive properly and courteously. We also have quite the aging population who feel that driving themselves is integral to maintaining their independence. As long as they can see, hear and their mental faculties are in order, there's nothing wrong with that, we'll just have to take it easy and slow down the pace. I am neither elderly nor on a motorcycle nor am I a particularly slow driver, but I can tell you that I have way too many people driving way too closely on a regular basis, and I don't appreciate it.
**UPDATE 08/06/14** After an afternoon of treacherous driving during a downpour, I would also like to add this, which I am shocked that I forgot while entering the original post:
4) Inclement Weather. Vision and stopping times are both impaired when road conditions are less than ideal. Let's face it, we live in Canada, and we get more than our fair share of crappy weather. It doesn't matter how fantastic your snow tires are, you still need to leave some space between your bumpers! Snow and ice are incredibly slippery and difficult to stop on. Rain causes ponding which can lead to hydroplaning. These are situations where a little extra space can and often does make the difference. You will not get there any faster by riding the person in front of you's bumper. In fact, it may be quite the opposite - you could potentially rear end them, and then it will take you much longer to get to where you were going.