One in eight road casualties caused by tailgating

Published 17 September 2018

New figures from Highways England show that one in eight of all road casualties are caused by people who drive too close to the vehicle in front.

Tailgating is responsible for more than 100 deaths or serious injuries every year in England, with the majority of cases caused by drivers who are simply unaware they are dangerously invading someone else’s road space.

Nearly nine out of 10 motorists said they have either been tailgated or seen it, while more than a quarter of drivers admitted to tailgating other road users. A survey by Highways England found tailgating to be the biggest single bugbear that drivers have about other road users. 

The average stopping distance for a car at 70mph is 96 metres (24 car lengths) and the Highway Code recommends that drivers should allow at least a two second gap, which should be doubled on wet roads.

"It is intimidating and frightening if you’re on the receiving end. If that leads to a collision, then people in both vehicles could end up seriously injured or killed. We want everyone to travel safely, so the advice is - stay safe, stay back," said Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England.

"If you get too close to the car in front, you won’t be able to react and stop in time if they suddenly brake."

Insurance company Ageas reports that almost a quarter of accident claims between January and August 2018 involved either a policy holder’s or a third party’s vehicle being hit from behind.


Plodding Along    on 17 September 2018

This is so true and especially of truck drivers on motorways. These idiots are some of the very worst drivers around. They sit inches behind the bumpers of cars in 50mph limit areas of the M6. Total amateurs who should be banned from driving forever. The problem is that with very few police patrols on our motorways these idiots are seldom caught for their dangerous driving habits. We need govt policy to get the majority of trucks off our roads and onto rails. Trucks should not be allowed to overtake either. That is what causes most accidents on the motorways. A truck takes so long to overtake another truck so all other traffic has to use the 3rd lane to get past creating dangerous bottlenecks and ultimately, accidents.

Edited by Plodding Along on 17/09/2018 at 13:16

Polly10    on 17 September 2018

The worst are drivers who want to exceed the speed limit whilst you are trying to stick to it.
Many of the side roads where I live are now 20mph but most drivers seem to ignore it

Cathy Kennedy    on 17 September 2018

It drives me crazy. These drivers are basically bullying, using their vehicle to make the one in front do what they want i.e. speed up, or get out of their way. I usually pull over and let them pass, assuming that’s safe and possible. I remember my driving instructor saying “it’s better to have the idiots in front of you so you can see what they’re doing”. Very true!

Mr Dave    on 17 September 2018

The sweeping analogy of the uneducated.

MikeP_Wiltshire    on 17 September 2018

I am a retired professional driver and have seen many instances where the front driver causes the following vehicle to close up behind them. Most often it is due to the front driver slowing for no apparent reason. Many drivers seem to think the limit for a car on a single carriageway road is 50 mph whereas it is actually 60 mph. We are expected to "make and maintain good progress" so as not to delay traffic behind us - but driving at well under the normal speed, considering the road and weather conditions, is not making good progress. Most instances of tailgating I have seen in over 1.5m miles experience has been caused by the driver in front, but some do sit too close behind though they are not the majority.
If you think you are being tailgated, look at how you are driving and what speed you are doing. It could be you causing it and frustrating other drivers who have a need to get from A to B in reasonable time.

aethelwulf    on 17 September 2018

There is no minimun speed lmt on general roads but an accepted one on motorways of at least 40 mph. The talgating comes down to impatience which of course leads to thousands of accidents. You need patience to drive in a crowdwd island and this should be tested for in training. No patience? Don't drive.

Childwall    on 17 September 2018

I dislike tailgating intensely. It is seriously intimidating for any driver to have a vehicle too close to the rear end bumper. I always consider a vehicle to be too close if I cannot see the front number plate in my my rear view mirror. When I first learned to drive and subsequently as advanced driver, I was always taught to remember the ‘two elephant’ rule. This means that when the vehicle in front passes a stationary object Telegraph pole or other fixed point, the following vehicle should allow sufficient time during which the driver can say “one elephant, two elephants” before themselves passing the same point. It works at any speed for the ‘gap’ increases in direct ratio to the travelling speed of both vehicles. Suggest it should be a compulsory piece of training for all new drivers, or those on retraining/improvement courses.

Having so suggested, I find that when I get a tailgater close to the rear of my car, switching on my hazard lights is sometimes sufficient to force them back. If it does I always try to acknowledge the improvement in the hope it will be maintained, and the other driver learns a lesson in courtesy, and safe driving.

Andrew Greening    on 17 September 2018

LGV's are governed to 52/56MPH as well as having driving time governed by law, so when yopu stupid pratts in cars come in from slip roads and fail to meld into the traffic flow by speeding up or ( heaven forbid ) slow down and come in behind us it is little wonder that some LGV drivers sit only feet from the back end of your car.. failling to use lane 1 and sitting in Lane 2 because you fools think of it as the 'Cruising ' lane. Overtaking at inappropriate times and then braking in front of LGV's because you can't judge distance. These and planty of other stupid mistakes that car drivers do and continue to do so winds us LGV drivers up. It is only because of the fact that as an LGV driver I kinow the first person the Police will look at in the event of a collision stops me from quite happily reducing you and your carinto0a pile of scrap.

Any time you want to travel with me and observe what I and my fellow LGV drivers put up with on a daily basisi from you talentless lot please let me know as i would gladly sit you i the passenger seat so that you get an idea of what LGV drivers put up with daily.

It wiill be an eye opener for you That i can assure you.

William Barnes    on 17 September 2018

I am not an lgv driver but can imagine and totally sympathise with the problems mentioned byAndrew G.a lot of tailgating is caused by idiots not moving to the left hand lane when it’s clear

Mike Poole    on 17 September 2018

My own cure for tailgaters works very well, but has to be done carefully.

Once someone is so close that I can't see their number plate I think they are fair game.

I gently touch the brake pedal - not enough to activate the brakes but enough to make the brake lights come on and almost every time the driver behind stamps on their brakes, their front goes down and they back off - often with angry hand waving etc. but at least they are no longer bullying me...

straggler    on 20 September 2018

The consequences of that action could be serious - what if the driver behind brakes sharply and someone runs into him? Or it could provoke road rage with you as the victim.

Sam Martin    on 17 September 2018

I have a dash cam front and rear to monitor these idiots. I find that xe6rial tailgaters drive too close regardless of what speed you do
I try to let them pass if at all possible but always leave extra space between the car in front to be safe. If they don't like it tough.

Idunnoatall    on 17 September 2018

I was tailgated earlier this year by a white van man (Company owned and name plastered all over it. I was in the outside lane of a dual carriage way with an indicated 70 on the clock. Traffic in the nearside lane was either travelling at a slower speed or merging in from slip roads making it unsafe to move into it, as someone said above it would Impede making good progress as the gaps between near side line vehicles was too small. At one point he made as if to take a slip road then changed his mind,, swung across the nearside lane and right up behind me.

He was also in a vehicle restricted to 60 on a dual carriageway. I let him hurtle by at the first possible opportunity where he got held up by a car travelling at 70 about 500 yards ahead.. What the idiot didn't know was I had a front/rear view dash cam which got a damn good view of the top of his radiator grille and bottom half of his front screen out the back and his number as he passed.

It was so brazen and irresponsible as well as intimidatoryI forwarded the footiage to the local constabulary who were able to convict him for undue care and was fully deserved. This behaviour is not infrequent and drivers of these vehicles should be aware of their limitations to 60 on duallies.

IAM motorists stick to the posted speed limits and until limits are revised everyone should stick to it too.

HGVs travelling 6 feet apart in the nearside lane with the trailing one then overtaking for the next 6 miles half a mile an hour faster are also a particular bug bear. They should all be restricted to the same national limit instead of the random restrictions seemingly imposed by Company accountants to minimise fuel consumption (with or without the correct emissions kit) and made to travel at reasonable distances from each other enabling traffic to filter in or out as needed. End Rant.

D J Fraser    on 20 September 2018

Hi, I am also an advanced driver and agree with all your comments.

I would add that I was told in general conversation with a friendly HGV driver in the M6 junction 35 Truckhaven Truck Stop that, in order to conserve fuel drivers have a agreement to tailgate therefore slip-streaming and change round by radio or hands free phones message. He didn't seem to think he was doing anything wrong???

Andrew Greening    on 21 September 2018

Any LGV driver who tailgates another LGV at 6 feet is a total fool, if anything untoward occurs how is the follower going to know until it's too late and he is a one inch thick squashed up mess sandwiched between the back of the truck he's following and the load immediately behind him turning him/her into that mess.

As a LGV driver there is NO WAY I would do such a dumb stupid act, seen where an airline blew on a trailer causing the brakes to lock immediately, the following truck which was a way back hit it and went backwards into the path of another LGV which shunted it forward into the first truck again. Then two other trucks trying to avoid completely closed the road off. Luckily the driver of vehicle 2 was only trapped by the steering wheel pinning his left leg, his shouting and hollering were enough to convince me KEEP YOUR DISTANCE.

gavsmit    on 17 September 2018

Tailgating is a very serious issue that I encounter on almost every single journey i make, short or long.

After being done for speeding four times - all for being a fraction over the limit, all with mitigating reasons due to others bad driving and me avoiding a potential accident, and usually where the speed limit had recently dropped and i was concentrating more on the hazards ahead of me than constantly looking at my speedo - I obey speed limits to the letter now, so that means I experience constant aggressive tailgating.

Even when passing a speed trap, the idiot behind still continues to tailgate even though I've just saved them loads of money and points on their license!

But the worst case I ever experienced was when driving my wife and our new born baby home from hospital. A van driver was right up our backside, to then extent that he could see into the rear of my car and our new baby on the back seat. I flashed my hazards as he was so close and not relenting, but he just carried on. I considered pulling over to let him pass, but he was so close he would have hit us.

When we finally joined a dual carriageway, he got alongside and hurled a load of abuse whilst swerving towards me, despite me shouting that we had a new born baby on the back seat.

That was the days before I had a front/rear dash cam. Unfortunately I never saw him again, which is a shame - without being shown the error of his ways, God knows how many people he has injured or even killed since - and no speed camera is going to bring tailgaters to justice.

   on 18 September 2018

In the 1970s, petrol rationing was threatened due to middle east trouble.
A 50mph limit was imposed and the traffic flowed in relative safety and people got to work in plenty of time. Harsh regular breaking was not the norm because petrol was
in short supply and bad driving wasted gallons. Will we ever learn ? NO

Andrew Greening    on 20 September 2018

Given your moniker 'Plodding Along' would suggest that this refers to your style of driving and that you are a dawdler who moves along limited speed roads well under the posted limit.

LGV drivers have speed restricted vehicles and are time limited by drivers hours therefore when we unfortunately come up behind someone like you travelling slower than the limit imposed it eats into OUR travelling time and as we are usually travelling hundreds of miles from one destination to another it is little wonder some LGV drivers are sitting near to your boot.

From the rest of your missive you come across as a rather crass left wing individual who has no notion whatever of today's motorway movements and that MOST collisions are car/car or car barrier with LGV's being involved to a much lesser extent in car driver screw ups

My suggestion to you is keep travelling by rail and keep off the roads as you appear to be an amateur as a driver.

D J Fraser    on 20 September 2018

Perhaps a radar cruise control should be a standard fit for all cars in order for them to pass the Euro NCAP/6 (I think that's the latest test level). Software should be such that the higher the speed the more space from the car in front, and, it should not have the ability to be bye-passed.
An acceptable ruling from the EU and after March 2019 or a Ministry of Transport "must do".

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