Devotion in Motion: An Open Letter to the Person Tailgating Me

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth

Psalm 46:10  (NKJV)

Dear Friend,

It’s nice that you want to be so close to me as I commute to work this morning. But why, oh why, are you driving so close to the back bumper of my car? Looking in my rear-view mirror, I can see the expression on your face and even read the words on the front of your ball cap. Is there a reason you’re driving too close for (my) comfort?

I bet you wouldn’t be doing this if you’d paid more attention during high school. In Biology, one textbook says that a good bit of time passes between the instant you see a brake light and the moment when your foot touches the brake. Physics teaches us that if you’re going 60 miles per hour, you’re traveling a whopping 88 feet every second. That’s why the Drivers’ Education film says you should allow one-car-length between you and the vehicle in front of you for every 10 mph you’re traveling. I’m going 60 mph, so that means you should be six car-lengths behind me. If a dog runs out in front of me, you’re going to wind up sitting in my back seat.

Dearest buddy, I do realize the speed limit on this rural highway is 55 mph. But I’ve given up on trying to heed that limit because, when I do, you drive even closer to me (and you’re blinding me with your headlights.) But I refuse to drive 65 mph on narrow roads just because you’ve got your trousers in a twist. It’s just not safe.

Now, let me say, I’d understand this perfectly if you had a lot to gain by doing this. But let’s do the math. Even when you’re tailgating, you can’t arrive at your destination before the guy in front of you. And at the rate you’re currently driving, you’ll arrive one second after I do. Why not just ease up and arrive five seconds after I do? It’s only five seconds.

I’ll stop and let you go by if there’s a place in the road where I can safely do it. But it’s probably not going to pay off the way you think it is. Yesterday I let one of your fellow tailgaters pass me on the highway, and 20 minutes later when we arrived in town, he was in the 4-way stop in front of me. He was exactly 10 seconds ahead of me. So it begs the question: “Does all this frustration, impatience and road-rage pay off? Really?”

Before you say I’m a goody-two-shoes, let me confess that I have the same impatient impulses you do. But let’s be honest; it isn’t a Christian virtue to be irritated about having to wait for things. And, truth be told, we’ll probably just waste the 10 seconds we nearly killed ourselves (and other drivers) trying to save. In this multi-media age, it’s a rare day indeed when we don’t waste several minutes on something.

So instead of charging ahead, let’s heed the words of the Psalmist: “Be still. And Know. That I Am God.” The Scriptures teach that life is happier when we spend time thinking of our Creator. Not so much when we spend the morning fixating on the car in front of us and raging at it to go faster. Let’s relax a bit and make the world happier for everybody. Promoting peace in the world begins with the little things — like the way we drive.

Prayers and blessings,

Brother John

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 34 ½ years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He’s currently on a sabbatical from the preaching ministry, and is an English teacher at the Choctaw Tribal School. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where the indoor cat Eleanor says it’s too cold to hang around outside for long this week.) You can send him a note at