INTERVIEW: BANK HOLIDAY CONGESTION SET TO PROVOKE DANGEROUS TAILGATING
BANK HOLIDAY CONGESTION SET TO PROVOKE DANGEROUS TAILGATING
The average driver is expected to travel 75 miles over bank holiday weekend, causing nearly one in five (18%) to experience road rage. And with this, it is likely we will see many frustrated drivers tailgating those obstructing them getting from A to B smoothly.
According to new FOI obtained by Confused.com[i], the no.1 site for car savings, only 260 drivers have been prosecuted for tailgating since the Government introduced new measures to tackle "careless" driving in August 2013[ii]. ‘Tailgating’ accounted for just 3%[iii] of the 9,387[iv] offences for ‘careless driving’ which were issued by police over a four-year time frame[v]. Yet it seems tailgating isn’t being taken seriously by many drivers, with new research from Confused.com suggesting a third (33%) are unaware there is a penalty at all - one which could subject you to a £100 on the spot fine and three points on your licence.
The study reveals a whopping four in five (82%) motorists recall being tailgated by another driver, with over a quarter (27%) typically being tailgated once a week. Worryingly, nearly one in five (19%) have had an accident or near miss as a result. However, there is a clear disparity between the number of drivers being tailgated (82%) and the amount admitting to the offence (22%). This suggests that perhaps many drivers are in fact unaware that they are breaking the law.
Of those who are aware, many are quick to provide excuses for tailgating. Almost half of drivers (49%) admit to having tried to get the car in front to speed up as they perceive them to be driving too slowly, while two in five (40%) have used this bullying tactic as a way to encourage a vehicle to change lanes. Worryingly, one in seven (14%) have used tailgating out of anger in order to teach the car in front a lesson. However, some motorists’ seemingly careless attitude to Section 264 of the Highway Code[i] maybe unsurprising given almost a third (30%) of drivers, after passing their test, claim they were never taught how to drive on motorways. Nearly half (42%) agree more should be done to tackle tailgating with over two thirds (68%) believing tailgating causes accidents.
In response to the new research, and in a mission to raise awareness about the dangers of tailgating both advertently and inadvertently, Confused.com teamed up with Thames Valley Police in a mission to raise awareness about the dangers of tailgating. Confused.com’s motoring editor, Amanda Stretton, joined PC Antony Cope on his daily policing of the M40 and M25, as they took to the roads to keep an eye out for tailgating offenders. PC Tony Cope took offending drivers aside to stress the importance of leaving the correct distance between your vehicle and the car in front of; something one particular driver finds hard to understand, resulting in a ticket being issued.
Furthermore, with over three quarters (79%) of motorists not knowing the correct distance to leave between their car and the vehicle in front on a motorway at 70mph, it seems there is a lack of education surrounding tailgating. With drivers who commit dangerous offences such as tailgating, middle lane hogging and speeding being responsible for road accidents on motorways across the UK, it is not surprising two out of five motorists (40%) agree that motorway driving should be taught to learner drivers and introduced as part of the practical driving test.
Amanda Stretton says: “Going out on the road with PC Tony, I was shocked to see just how many people were tailgating at high speeds. It was clear many are unaware that this type of driving malpractice is illegal which can, in some circumstances, lead to devastating accidents. We urge new drivers to have a few lessons on the motorway before embarking on journeys alone so they can fully understand the importance of stopping distances. As a rule of thumb, motorists should always use the two second rule, whereby a driver should stay at least two seconds behind any vehicle that is directly in front of their car.
“What is particularly interesting about the new research is the fact that so many drivers have said they have been the victim of tailgating, although far fewer see themselves as the perpetrator. There seems to be a double standard: a lot of drivers are happy to get somebody else to speed up or move over in this manner but don’t like when it is done to them. It is important to take your time and follow the speed limits and appropriate stopping distance, especially on the motorway and in bad weather conditions. Not only could you find yourself hit with an £100 fine and 3 points on your licence through tailgating, but you could put your own life and others’ at risk.”
 Confused.com issued a Freedom of Information request to 45 police forces in England, Scotland and Wales, which asked two questions relating to tailgating offences in the UK:
Q.1 How many people have you charged (e.g. issued a fined/fixed penalty notice) with ‘tailgating’ since the law was introduced in 2013 (please provide a year-on-year breakdown)?
Q2. Please also indicate how many fines/fixed penalties your force area issued which may be related to ‘tailgating’ including 1) undertaking 2) middle lane hogging and 3) driving too slow.
 Of the 45 police forces that were contacted from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, nine were able to come back with data relating to ‘careless driving’ and ‘tailgating.’
 This figure is made up from the nine responses we received that included “driving without due care and attention” and “driving without reasonable consideration, ” which falls under the ‘careless driving’ penalty.