Tailgating to blame for 1 in 8 serious accidents

Tailgating is to blame for one in eight serious accidents on motorways and major A-roads, according to Highways England.

They are urging drivers to keep a safe distance, as more than 100 people are killed or seriously injured each year in accidents where a vehicle has driven too close to the one in front.

Not surprisingly, a survey of 1,000 UK drivers found tailgating was deemed the worst habit on the road. Below are the top ten bug-bears from the research carried out by Teamsport.

1. Tailgating – 58%
2. Not indicating – 50%
3. Leaving full-beam headlights on – 43%
4. Someone cutting in just in front of you – 40%
5. Someone parking across two spaces – 40%
6. Not being thanked for letting someone out – 38%
7. Middle lane hogging – 35%
8. Late braking – 30%
9. Someone not letting you out – 29%
10. Undertaking – 27%

Despite the survey findings, 20% of the participants admitted to tailgating themselves and quite staggeringly, those who did found the habit more annoying than the typical driver.

The Highway Code

The Highway Code states that drivers should allow at least a two-second gap between vehicles, with the gap needing to be at least doubled in wet conditions. Failure to do so falls under the careless driving offence and can bring punishments ranging from a £100 fine and three penalty points, a driving ban, or even a prison sentence if a serious collision occurs as a result.

Whilst not only being a nuisance to drivers, the dangerous offence also topped the list of things that causes motorists to be the most frightened and distressed behind the wheel; with 32% of respondents from a study by Select Car Leasing stating, ‘drivers driving too close behind me’ was their biggest road-related fear.

This beat breaking down (31%), being crashed into (25%) and getting lost (22%).Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England said: "Tailgating makes the driver in front feel targeted and victimised, distracting their attention from the road ahead and making them more likely to make a mistake.”

Why people tailgate

Those who tailgate may do it due to road rage or simply be in auto pilot, unaware of how close they are following the vehicle in front. When driving, question if you would be able to stop in time if the vehicle in front came to a sudden halt. If the answer is no, then keep a bigger distance. You won’t achieve anything or get anywhere quicker by tailgating, it will simply just increase your chances of being in a collision.

If you are the person being tailgated, it’s normal to feel intimidated but never feel like you need to speed up. Ensure you keep to the speed limit, remain calm and don’t allow it to distract you from the road ahead. Whilst you may want to teach the other driver a lesson, the most importance aspect is safety. So, put your ego to the side, indicate and pull over to let the driver pass you – only if safe to do so of course.

If you are on a motorway where you should never attempt to stop, always keep to the left lane unless you are overtaking. This will leave other lanes available for other drivers to pass you, meaning you shouldn’t get tailgated in the first place.

Published 26th April 2019

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