The M1 near Leeds has been revealed as the country’s leading tailgating hotspot.
A new study carried out by Direct Line Car Insurance shows that sections of the M42 near Solihull (West Midlands) and M1 near Brent Cross complete the top three sections of motorway with the highest number of vehicles tailgating.
Analysis of traffic flow data from nearly 6,500 sites on the Highways Agency motorway network shows that nearly half (49%) of all vehicles were found to allow less than the recommended two-second gap from the car in front. The study found 17% of vehicles were travelling with less than one second apart.
Vehicle flow data suggests that for vehicles travelling at speeds of 60-69 mph, 78% of cars had gaps that were less than their calculated stopping distances (73-94m), and 54% had gaps less than half the calculated stopping distances.
Drivers on the M42 most regularly ignore the Highway Code’s two-second safe gap between vehicles, with four sections of the motorway between Solihull and the NEC, Birmingham, included in the national top 10 motorway tailgating hotspots.
Tailgating hotspots in England:
1. M1 at A1M to J47 southbound, Leeds
2. M42 J6-7 northbound, Solihull
3. M1 within J1 northbound, Brent Cross
4. A1M J51-50 southbound, Leeming, North Yorkshire
5. M27 J7-5 westbound, Southampton
6. M42 J6-5 southbound, Solihull
7. M42 J4-3A southbound, Solihull/Redditch
8. M42 J7-6 southbound, NEC Birmingham
9. A627M between start & J1 northbound, Oldham/Rochdale
10. M11 within J9 northbound, Bishops Stortford/Cambridge.
Source: TRL, Highways Agency MIDAS data
Police reports indicate that over 1,700 injuries (up to 15% of all injury collisions) on Highways Agency roads are caused by close following, including around five fatalities a year. Young drivers are the most likely to be involved in tailgating accidents, with around 37% of these crashes caused by under 30s.
The cost of these accidents is estimated to be between £79 and £129 million per year, with a further national cost of between £4.2 and £12.6m due to the congestion caused by tailgating collisions.
Behavioural analysis of why people tailgate concluded that there are two underlying causes; driver error in assessing speeds and gaps in the traffic; and drivers actively trying to close the distance with the vehicle ahead on purpose, and sometimes aggressively.
Rob Miles, director of car insurance at Direct Line, commented: “All drivers have a responsibility to keep a safe distance between their vehicle and others on the road. Tailgating is extremely dangerous and also against the law, regardless of whether it’s done intentionally or in ignorance. Often people can find themselves too close to other vehicles on motorways as they rush to their destination or try to keep up with traffic flow. We’d urge drivers to keep their stopping distances in mind, as these are often forgotten in times of haste or frustration. Drivers should aim to always have at least a two-second gap – over 60 metres – between themselves and the car in front to keep safe on the motorway and avoid facing the on-the-spot fines for tailgating that were introduced last year.”