National Highways urges drivers to use the Highway Code's two-second rule in new campaign to combat tailgating
Drivers are tailgating on some of the country's busiest roads, say highway chiefs, and not following 'basic safety rules'.
National Highways said driving too close to the car in front is becoming an all too common problem and is now launching a new campaign to tackle the issue.
The Highway Code tells drivers to allow at least a two-second gap between the car they're driving and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic and in tunnels where visibility is reduced.
The gap should be wider as speeds increase - rising to 2.4 seconds or about 53 metres – when driving at 50mph and 3.1 seconds – or 96 metres – at 70mph.
Furthermore, the gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads or where there is snow.
National Highways says driving too close to the car in front has become a factor in around one in eight crashes on England's A roads and motorways and it is imperative that drivers don't forget how to follow the simple two-second rule.
To use the rule, motorists should allow the vehicle in front to pass a fixed object such as a lamp post or road sign then count to two seconds. If they reach two seconds before reaching the same reference marker they need to slow down and drop back.
But a recent trial of new tailgating cameras on a stretch of the M1 captured more than 60,000 incidents of vehicles driving too close in just one year, with 10,000 of those recorded as being repeat offenders.
National Highways Head of Road Safety, Jeremy Phillips, said: "Unfortunately, as highlighted by the M1 trial, we know that too many people are driving too close on our roads.
"Most tailgating is unintentional by drivers who don’t realise that they are infringing on someone else’s space. But not leaving enough space between you and the vehicle in front is not only very frightening for that driver, it could have devastating consequences.
"The closer you get, the less time you have to react and to stop safely. So to avoid inadvertently getting too close to the vehicle in front, we would urge drivers to use the two-second rule and to always ‘stay safe, stay back’."
Tailgating is a motoring offence and can lead to prosecution for driving without due care and attention.
Those caught can face a £100 fine and three points on their licence and in some cases more severe penalties or a court appearance.
As part of efforts to educate drivers about the dangers of driving too close more than 2,000 letters were sent to drivers picked up in the M1 camera trial and while not prosecuted, they were issued with educational material demonstrating the dangers to them of driving too close to the car in front.
A new television and social media campaign reminding motorists of the two-second rule is also being launched to try to help combat the problem.
Jason Wakeford, head of campaigns at Brake, the road safety charity, said it remains crucial that the 'two-second' rule is still followed.
He said: "It’s vital that drivers leave enough distance between the vehicle in front in order to react in time to any sudden dangers. We’d urge everyone to respect the two-second rule to keep them, and others on the road, safe."