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Discover the risks of tailgating

Date: Fri 23rd February 2018   |   Author: L Blake

What is tailgating?

Tailgating is when a motorist drives too close to the vehicle in front, usually in an attempt to force them to move lanes or speed up. Tailgating usually takes place on a motorway, as often drivers become frustrated at the speed of the vehicle in front and see tailgating as a way to force the other driver to speed up.

Tailgating may also be caused by a lack of concentration from the driver. When drivers are not fully concentrating on the road, they often forget to leave a safe distance between themselves and the car in front.

Almost half of Brits admit they’ve been guilty of tailgating at times. With a further 30% of them not realising that tailgating is a criminal offence. Read on to discover more about tailgating and find out what the recommended safe braking distance is.

Tailgating is a criminal offence

One-third of all British drivers didn’t realise tailgating is actually a criminal offence.  Any British drivers caught tailgating will receive a £100 fine and three points on their license. However, in extreme cases, tailgating offenders have received a driving ban and/or prison sentences.

New laws surrounding tailgating were implemented in 2013, in a bid to cut down on dangerous driving. With one in five drivers being involved in a tailgating related accident or a near miss, the police aimed to raise awareness of what tailgating is and how dangerous it can really be.

car tailgating other car on sunny day

What is the safe braking distance?

Almost 80% of British drivers are unaware of the correct distance that should be left between their vehicle and the vehicle in front. When travelling at 60mph, it takes a minimum of 240 feet to stop safely. Out of this 240 feet, it takes 60 feet for the driver to initially realise they need to stop. It then takes 180 feet for the vehicle to completely stop once the brakes are applied.

In addition to this, certain factors such as rain, ice or grit on the road surface can increase stopping time by up to four times. Therefore, when driving in the rain, it is recommended that you keep a greater distance between yourself and the vehicle in front.

A helpful reminder of the safe braking distance is the two-second rule. It is recommended that drivers stay at least two seconds behind the vehicle that is directly in front.

How to deal with tailgaters

The safest way to deal with tailgaters is to let them pass if it’s safe to do so. You should do this by moving into the left-hand lane. If the tailgater appears aggressive, it is recommended that you do not do anything to anger them further. Although it may be tempting, you should not speed up as you may then not be leaving enough space between yourself and the driver in front.    

A lack of awareness is what makes tailgating so dangerous. We hope you found this article useful in understanding what tailgating is and safe braking distance. There are plenty more helpful articles on AutoProtect’s Engage page to help improve your knowledge of driving and UK roads.