Whenever there is a survey of what winds people up when they are driving, tailgating is always high on the list. I have often wondered what a – calm if possible – conversation with someone indulging in this behaviour would be like. I would like to know what they see as the advantages. I could come up with a reasonable list of disadvantages but still can’t think of a positive reason.
In a recent survey of 2000 drivers, 80% said they had been tailgated at one time or another. 20% of the sample said they had had an accident or a near miss as a result.
This type of ‘careless driving’ became a fixed penalty offense in 2013. Of 260 violations recorded by nine police forces covered by the survey, half were in Wales. 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. That could be because no one in London gets out of third gear!
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. 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. 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.
We all know about the 2 second rule and more if the conditions warrant it, as well as staying away from the back of large vehicles so we can see and be seen.
If you are a victim of this behaviour don’t let it affect your driving. Gradually open the space in front of you to give yourself more leeway. If the tailgater then jumps into that space in front of you so much the better. It’s always better to have them in front of you rather than behind.
John Norrie – Chairman