What is tailgating?
Tailgating is the term given to those who drive too closely to the vehicle in front of them.
It is worryingly common on UK roads and a big risk factor in accidents. In fact, Highways England data suggests tailgating is a factor in 1 in 8 casualties on the road network.
It is advised that you leave at least a 2 second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. Less than this could see you tailgating.
Tailgating is classed as a careless driving offence and if caught you could face a £100 fine and 3 penalty points. Punishment could be more severe if the behaviour results in a serious accident.
What are the dangers of tailgating?
Driving too close to the person in front increases the risk of having an accident if you should need to brake suddenly as your stopping distance and margin for error are far reduced.
Other dangers of tailgating include:
- The risk of causing a rear end shunt to the person in front of you. Accidents of this nature are almost always deemed ‘at fault’ for the driver behind
- Causing distress to the driver in front – Highways England cite people who are being tailgated as feeling scared, angry, frustrated, intimidated, and bullied
- There is also the risk that the driver in front will slow down or brake suddenly to try and stop the tailgating behaviour of the driver behind. This again increases the risk of being involved in a rear end shunt accident
- Such driving behaviour can lead to road rage
- Risks of tailgating are heightened in wet or icy conditions when stopping distances are increased
Managing tailgating behaviour
As above it is important to keep at least 2 seconds distance between you and the car in front, and a much further distance in wet and icy conditions.
Be mindful of your driving style and the impact this may have on other road users. If you are a fleet manager, then investing in driver performance monitoring to identify those who may tailgate and providing driver training to help adjust driving styles can be beneficial.
Could tailgating be something more?
Sadly, cash for crash schemes are on the rise across UK roads, so if you do find yourself being tailgated be aware that you could be being targeted as a potential victim of one of these scams.
If you are being tailgated and the driver in front is also driving erratically then you could potentially be involved in what is referred to as an induced accident. This is where fraudsters, either individually or in conjunction with other drivers, target an innocent motorist to become the ‘at fault driver’.
Lorries and other HGV vehicles are also increasingly likely to be targeted in these types of schemes so vigilance will be key. Investing in a dashcam or other video capturing technology could be beneficial to help prove fault.
If you do find yourself being tailgated, it is best to continue driving safely and with caution and not let the tailgater distract you. If you suspect you are the victim of a cash for crash scheme the ABI have some useful tips on how to respond.
Anthony Jones has over 30 years’ experience in the commercial vehicle and haulage sector and has built up significant expertise over this time. We also work in partnership with DAC Beachcroft, legal specialists in the motor sector, who can provide support in the event of a road traffic accident. Get in touch with us today to discuss your commercial motor insurance needs on 020 8290 9099 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.