Tailgating

The new cameras targeting tailgaters coming to a motorway near you


Highways England has stepped up its efforts to curb tailgaters with the help of new roadside cameras.

Technology that can detect if vehicles are travelling too close to each other is being trialled on the M1 in Northamptonshire before it's rolled out across the country.

The new system has recorded 26,000 tailgating vehicles in the first two months of the trial. That's 419 drivers a day breaking the Highway Code's two-second minimum gap rule.

Rather than prosecuting offenders, the police have sent warning letters in the post to reinforce the message to leave a safe distance between vehicles. Drivers can usually be fined £100 and handed three penalty points on their licence.

Of the 26,000 tailgaters who received letters, 3,700 were repeat offenders. Some drivers were spotted tailgating up to 12 times on the same 150-metre stretch of road where the cameras have been installed.

Highways England said the cameras are there to "make drivers aware of their behaviour and encourage better driving -These new cameras have, sadly, highlighted just how many people are driving too close on our roads",

Tailgating is a factor in one in eight casualties on the Highways England network and the government-owned company is assessing whether sending tailgaters letters is leading to a change in their behaviour.

Serious collisions caused by drivers travelling too close to vehicles in front of them have jumped to their highest level in at least seven years, according the Department for Transport (DfT).

Most tailgating is unintentional by drivers who are simply unaware they are dangerously invading someone else's space. But not leaving enough space between you and the vehicle in front can be very frightening and intimidating — it could also prove fatal."

The two-second gap recommended in the Highway Code should be treated as a minimum, as stopping distances vary on different road surfaces and at a range of speeds.

Despite the danger of driving too close to other vehicles, a surprising 25% of drivers admitted to tailgating others, when asked by Highways England.

The Northamptonshire trial is set to last six months.

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