Driving too close to the car in front increases the chances of crashing, the Highways Agency says (Picture iStock)
Are you guilty of tailgating or driving too close to the car in front? If you are, government agency Highways England warns it could only be a matter of time before you crash. It claims that one in eight accidents on motorways and A-roads is due to tailgating. It adds that about 100 people a year die because of vehicles following too closely.
This makes tailgating the third most likely cause of crashes in the UK. It comes behind failing to look properly and not judging another vehicle’s speed accurately. It’s such a problem that Highways England has launched a campaign to draw attention to it (below). Read on to find out why tailgating is so dangerous.
Why do road users drive too closely?
Does driver distraction play a part in your motoring life? Are you a habitual nose-picker during the morning rush hour? Do you put on lipstick or brush your hair in traffic? Maybe you air-drum to your favourite tune on the radio? Or perhaps you reach for the electric shaver and smarten up on the way to a meeting?
Of course, as a responsible law-abiding driver, you’re shaking your head in disbelief: none of these descriptions rings true for you. However, according to a new survey, there are plenty of other drivers who do engage in deadly in-car habits.
Who’s not been paying attention?
Drivers could be forgiven for thinking almost every other car, van, lorry or motorbike has a dash cam fitted to it. The pocket-size portable video devices have boomed in popularity, with an estimated four million dashboard-mounted cameras now on Britain’s roads.
And that number is only set to rise. When 29 leading vehicle insurers were questioned about dash cams, all said they would consider accepting dash cam footage in the event of a claim. Some companies go so far as to offer discounts to drivers for using a dash cam.
However, one of the UK’s leading road safety organisations has spoken out over concerns that footage from dash cams might take traffic police off the roads. And privacy campaigners have slammed the phenomenon of ‘vehicle voyeurs’. These are drivers who publicly share footage of other road users without their consent. Find out how objections are increasing to this widespread and relatively new gadget.
Using a hand-held phone at the wheel is dangerous but it’s not great using hands-free either
Mobile phone dangers at the wheel aren’t just limited to drivers who hold handsets. Research shows that even drivers who talk using hands-free kits can be less safe.
Highlighting how dangerous using a mobile phone while at the wheel can be, the penalty for using a handset was increased at the beginning of March 2017. The fine was doubled to £200 and six penalty points for drivers caught phoning or texting. It means anyone caught twice for the offence could lose their licence.
However, research shows that simply the act of talking on a phone while driving can lead to greater distraction and taking longer to react to hazards.
Why is talking on the phone while driving dangerous?
One minute the sun’s out, the next it’s nearly dark. The joys of driving in autumn and winter
There’s one good thing about the clocks going back: that extra hour in bed. But payback for most of us is that it also signals months of spending more time at the wheel when it’s either dusk or dark. Allied to colder, damper weather making conditions difficult it’s one of the most difficult times of year to be driving.
A study of seasonal patterns over eight years concluded that there were 10 per cent more collisions killing or injuring a pedestrian in the four weeks after the clocks go back compared to the four weeks before they change.
To help keep drivers safe, we’ve asked driver training experts IAM Roadsmart for added tips on driving in poor light conditions. The Institute of Advanced Motorists’ head of driving standards, Richard Gladman, said: “Per mile driven the risk of a crash is actually higher at night despite the quieter roads. Getting used to driving at night can take time so take it easy until the old skills come back and you can start to enjoy the new challenges.”