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HomeOperational AdviceThe dangers of tailgating

The dangers of tailgating

Tailgating, in other words driving too close to the vehicle in front, is a dangerous activity that every driver should avoid, as it can lead to an increased chance of collision.

Some drivers consider speed limits as a target to be reached in the quickest time possible and treat other road users as obstacles in their way.

It is crucial to view speed limits as the ‘absolute maximum’ and not to consider it safe to drive at that speed, regardless of the road conditions. Unsafe speed increases the chances of causing a collision or being unable to avoid one, as well as its severity.

Tailgating is an aggressive behaviour that triggers emotive responses, making it difficult for drivers to react properly.

Drivers who are being tailgated can feel intimidated, especially when they are not able to pull over to let the tailgater pass.

Tailgating is a driving behaviour that can also cause fear in the driver of the vehicle being followed, the driver may feel forced to constantly check their rear-view mirror instead of focusing on the road ahead, which can be extremely dangerous.

The safest response in this situation is to maintain a safe and correct speed and allow the closely following driver to overtake when possible. If the tailgater does not overtake, slow down gradually and pull over if possible, even if that means taking an unintended turn.
A study conducted by Highways England showed that one in eight (12.5%) of all casualties on England’s major routes are caused by drivers tailgating. In response to these figures, Highways England launched a campaign called ‘Don’t Be A Space Invader,’ using the classic arcade game to warn motorists about not leaving enough space.

Drivers who tailgate need to know that it is unacceptable, and a form of bullying that won’t lead to a faster journey. Drivers should always leave at least a 2-second gap between themselves and the vehicle in front. In wet or bad weather conditions, that gap should be doubled.

Deliberate tailgating is difficult to combat, most new vehicles have anti-collision safety technology that includes alerts signalling to the driver that they are travelling too close to the vehicle in front. But for those drivers determined to tailgate, these warnings are just ignored.●

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