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Adam Jolley

Four in five drivers fall victim to tailgating

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Survey shows the majority of motorists have experienced being tailgated, while Confused.com catches one offender in action.

Motorway trafficDriving too closely to the vehicle in front regularly ranks as one of the worst road habits among motorists. 

However, new research from Confused.com shows just how common an occurrence tailgating really is.

Four in five drivers say they’ve been tailgated at one time or another, according to the poll of 2,000 drivers.

And one in five have had an accident or a near miss as a result. 

Wales named worst place for tailgating

Looking across the UK, Wales appears to the worst area for tailgating.

According to Freedom of Information data obtained by Confused.com, 129 prosecutions have been recorded since “careless driving” became a fixed penalty offence in 2013.

These convictions have accumulated up to £12,900 in fines for Welsh drivers. 

And they account for nearly half of the total 260 violations recorded by nine police forces across the UK since the new laws were introduced.

Meanwhile, nine in 10 drivers in Wales say they’ve been a victim of tailgating compared with, for example, only seven in 10 motorists in London.

Why do drivers tailgate?

In addition to shedding light on the frequency of tailgating incidents on UK roads, the study reveals the motives behind tailgaters’ actions.

Almost half admit to tailgating because they want to get the car in front to speed up. 

Meanwhile, others confess to trying to get the driver in front to pull over into another lane or even “teach the car in front a lesson”.

Many drivers say they were simply in a rush. 

Driver looking in rear view mirror

As for those drivers who’ve been tailgated, half have responded by refusing to switch lanes and sticking to the speed limit. 

Others have slowed down on purpose to frustrate the tailgater. And some even admit to spraying window wash onto the windscreen of the motorist behind them. 

Perhaps most dangerous are the drivers who’ve used the handbrake to slow down without showing brake lights, trying to frighten trailing tailgaters. 

In response to the research, policeman Tony Cope of Thames Valley Police and Confused.com’s Amanda Stretton hit the motorway to educate drivers on the hazards of tailgating.

They even managed to catch one offender in action.

The ‘two-second rule’

When it comes to driving a safe distance behind other traffic, policeman Tony stresses the importance of the ’two-second rule’.

This means counting down a two-second distance between your car and the vehicle in front. 

He also urges drivers to safely move into another lane at the earliest possible opportunity when pursued by tailgating drivers.

Amanda says: “It’s shocking to see just how many motorists are dangerously tailgating at high speeds. 

“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.”

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