Drivers tailgating to blame for 1 in 8 serious collisions

Alarmingly, one in eight serious collisions on motorways is caused by drivers travelling too close to the vehicle in front, ‘tailgating’.

Highways England, which manages the motorway network, report that more than 100 people are killed or seriously injured each year in collisions where a vehicle has driven too close to the one in front. Of the 16,233 casualties on motorways and major A roads in England in 2016, 1,896 involved tailgating.

Most drivers probably don’t intend to tailgate, their driving strategy is simply not seeking to keep a safe following distance by default. Driving too close to the vehicle in front without incident becomes an accepted and learned behaviour. However, for some, this soon changes when they hit the brakes and can’t stop in time.

Going back to basics is never a bad thing, remember the two-second rule? If you keep a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front you will be within a safe stopping distance, however, this assumes an alert driver, good brakes and tyres and a dry road. Far better to allow a little more for that extra peace of mind and in the wet, remember, stopping distances double!

Drivers who do keep a safe distance often report that another driver soon fills the gap, and you end up having to keep slowing down, adding extra time onto a journey. The impact on journey time is negligible and should never be an excuse for not leaving a safe gap, your safety is far more important than worrying about someone filling your gap.

Next time you drive on a motorway, try using the two-second rule. Wait for the vehicle in front to pass an object and then say, ‘only a fool breaks the two second rule’, that takes about two seconds. If the road is wet, you need to double the distance, so simply add to the first phrase, ‘when the weather’s poor, add a bit more’. This works on all roads, not just motorways.