Drivers warned about tailgating on busy roads

17 September 2018, 09:37 | Updated: 17 September 2018, 09:45

Space invader

Highways England are warning driving drivers about the dangers of tailgating.

New figures show that one in eight of all road casualties are caused by people who drive too close to the vehicle in front, with more than 100 people killed or seriously injured each year. 

In the South West, figures from 2016 show that tailgating was a contributing factor resulting in 186 casualties. 

While a small minority of tailgating is deliberate, most is unintentional by drivers who are simply unaware they are dangerously invading someone else's space. 

Now a safety campaign is using the well-known Space Invader video game character to alert drivers to the anti-social nature and risks of tailgating. 

A survey by Highways England reveals that tailgating is the biggest single bugbear that drivers have about other road users. And in-car research - using dashcams, facial recognition, emotion tracking and heart monitors - reveals that a driver's typical reaction to someone who tailgates them is surprise, anger and contempt, with a spike in heart rate. 

Nearly 9 out of 10 people say they have either been tailgated or seen it. And more than a quarter of drivers admitted to tailgating. 

Richard Leonard, Head of Road Safety at Highways England, says: ''If you get too close to the car in front, you won't be able to react and stop in time if they suddenly brake. 

''Tailgating makes the driver in front feel targeted and victimised, distracting their attention from the road ahead and making them more likely to make a mistake. 

''It is intimidating and frightening if you're on the receiving end. If that leads to a collision, then people in both vehicles could end up seriously injured or killed. We want everyone to travel safely, so the advice is - stay safe, stay back.'' 

Being a Space Invader can also cost you money. One insurance company reports that almost a quarter of accident claims between January and August this year involved either a policy holder's or a third party's vehicle being hit from behind.