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Old 08-20-2012, 09:40 AM   #1
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Stalking?

We were returning from PA to Texas via I-81 in Virginia last Thursday. Between Harrisonburg and Stauton, I picked up a tailgater. I know it was there because I'm pretty aware of tailgaters and do everything that I can to encourage them to pass if they are not happy with how fast that I'm driving. This one seemed to be there longer than normal.

When the same car, a PT Cruiser with VA tags, was still with me after Stauton, I became concerned. What was their problem? Perhaps they had hit my toad. Perhaps I had unknowingly come too close to them. There was no horn or flashing of the headlights trying to signal me and no attempt to pass. Unfortunately for me, my emergency flashers had just quit working.

Approaching Christiansburg, over 75 miles later, the car was still there and, at times, was way too close. My practice is to slow significantly at the top of the long hills to make sure that my speed doesn't get beyond the exhaust brake's ability to slow the chassis. The car stayed right with me. It was on the long uphills that I really got concerned. There are a couple with truck lanes and, while I can usually pass trucks uphill, I always start in the truck lane. As I changed lanes to go to that truck lane, the car did too. Anyone who has driven that section of I-81 understands exactly what I'm describing.

Now, I was considering options:
1. Pull over or take an exit - I didn't think this was a good idea.
2. Call 911 and ask for law enforcement assistance - it was not highly likely that would they be to want to do anything when it was just a person following too close for a long distance.

At Christiansburg, the traffic thinned out somewhat and I made a couple of quick lane changes. The car followed. On one of them, I signaled a change to the left and the car changed lanes faster than I did. I moved back to the right lane and slowed down. Now the car was beside me and had another car behind it. It had no choice but to pass and pull back in front of me - just as I took the exit to a rest area. I simply drove through the rest area slowly and exited.

When I got back onto the main part of I-81, the car was gone. I never saw it again. When I did stop at a rest stop, I looked over the toad carefully but there was no sign of any damage or problems.

I cannot imagine why anyone would deliberately follow a slower vehicle in their own State. If they had maintained a reasonable following distance, I really won't have cared but having someone so close especially under hilly conditions where I was constantly changing speeds was unnerving. I know, I know - FIDO (Forget it, drive on.) but someone who follows me that close for about 100 miles isn't what I'd consider to be a normal circumstance.

We'll see if whoever it was has some kind of a beef with me and uses my license number to track me down.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:47 AM   #2
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I have heard of cars stopping short in front of RV's and when everyone pulls over they rob you. Maybe this guy was going to do the same ( or rear end the toad ) at the appropriate moment.

PS

I would have dialed 911.
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Old 08-20-2012, 10:04 AM   #3
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Maybe they just wanted us use your RV as a wind "shield" to gain better fuel mileage. Why must we always believe the worst about people. I prefer to take a "positive" approach to every situation until it turns the other direction. (And, that's why I carry a firearm in the RV - just in case!)
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Old 08-20-2012, 10:48 AM   #4
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One way to determine if they are really following is to turn in for fuel, Interstate Fuel Stops are very public so take your time for a while, fill your tank, buy some coffee, if you see a cop then so much the better. I've actually done this, needlessly it turned out but it solved my dilema.

The theory is if they stick around and rejoin you then that is more than a coincidence. Take the next fuel stop and call the police while you are doing so.

That being said what you describe can be entirely coincidental. Maybe they were just chatting and gawking at your motor home wishing they had one.

It does not take but a moment to get your plate numbers and if that is what they needed then they could have had it and gone. No reason to follow you really.

Did you get their license number, description, etc? If so then report it now to the State Police what the heck it can't hurt. And it records your action.

They will smile politely I'm sure but then you never know they might say hey we have been looking for this guy?

Another good thing to have is a camera and take pictures.movies at a time like this, I love my iPhone for this sort of thing.

My gut tells me you are fine but it is very good thing to have your head on a swivel as they say, be aware of your surroundings; so good for you.
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Old 08-20-2012, 10:56 AM   #5
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It was probably totally innocent, but pulling off at an exit with lots of services and stopping at the busiest looking place with lots of witnesses might have helped your peace of mind. If, when you returned to the highway you saw the same vehicle again tailing you, then I'd think bad thoughts and call 911.
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdownward View Post
Maybe they just wanted us use your RV as a wind "shield" to gain better fuel mileage......

What I thought too...

maybe a college kid that only had $12 to get home and for the most part you must have been going the speed he wanted to go...

but if concerned - a public place is the place to go... most GPS's will lead u to the next police station (but the police stations around here are in places you may not want to visit !)
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:21 AM   #7
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I am not a paranoid person , but when someone is following me for 100 miles and switches lanes every time I do and speeds up and slows down as I do , my antenna goes up. I was born at night but not last night.
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:26 AM   #8
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As described, the best course of action would be to call the police, they could have offered immediate suggestions to keep you safe pending the arrival of assistance. Any attempt to discern their intentions is a waste of time, best left to the professionals.
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:27 AM   #9
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I think I would have called 911 and asked for assistance, giving your direction of travel, mile marker and speed. There are too many crazy folks on the road now.

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Old 08-20-2012, 11:36 AM   #10
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I would have called 911 to express my concern. Let the authorities know your location and concern, perhaps there is a car in the area or there has been activity in the area.
I have instructed all my children, and now grandchildren, as they have reached driving age: If you feel uncomfortable while driving, even if driving home, drive directly into the nearest police station or firestation driveway. Even if the sign says restricted entry, just drive in and explain yourself. The following car will probably not want to follow you in. In our neighborhood, Los Angeles City and County, there are plenty of options for police or fire.
Personally, I feel that even if you are armed in your RV, stopping would not be a great idea as it might initiate a confrontation. Even if you win you might be entering an uphill legal battle. Is it Stand Your Ground when you were in motion anyway?
Glad your post had a happy ending.
Happy Trails.
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:41 AM   #11
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I paced with a semi trailer for about an hour after setting my cruise control. So naturally when he changed lanes to pass I did too....Thats not too say you shouldn't be aware and if you think your being followed get off your route and do a bunch of quick turns and see if the fellow is still following. If he is ...then head to a public place and call 911...
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:48 AM   #12
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Driving I81 thru Virginia is almost forever I'm sure the people weren't in a hurry and found your rig to set a nice pace for them.
I made that trip from HBG, Pa to Char.,NC last week... Its enough to make you crazy..
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred1609 View Post
I paced with a semi trailer for about an hour after setting my cruise control. So naturally when he changed lanes to pass I did too....Thats not too say you shouldn't be aware and if you think your being followed get off your route and do a bunch of quick turns and see if the fellow is still following. If he is ...then head to a public place and call 911...
Unfortunately, that is much easier said than done when I'm driving a 55 foot long rig and the other driver is in a passenger car the size of my toad.

The other driver had to slow significantly several times to change lanes to stay behind me. That was what really got my antennas up. I had considered that he/she was trying to use my wind shadow.

I did seriously consider 911. Our daughter is a 911 operator and based on her stories, I had serious doubts that I was going to get much help. Remember that after Staunton, there isn't much in the way of towns in that secton of road. I doubt that a small town PD is going to send a car onto I-81 based on the information that I could provide. At that point, I did not have a license number since VA only has them in the back and I had never seen the back of the car. My best hope would have been that a local PD called the VA State Police and one of those vehicles already on the Interstate would have been available. I never saw one in that stretch of road, however.

We could have defended ourselves if necessary. And I wouldn't have hesitated to do so if we were attacked. I was praying that it didn't come to that.
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:59 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Clifftall View Post
I am not a paranoid person , but when someone is following me for 100 miles and switches lanes every time I do and speeds up and slows down as I do , my antenna goes up. I was born at night but not last night.
Exactly
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