In September, Highways England launched its campaign – ‘Don’t be a Space Invader’ – to draw the country’s attention to the hazards of tailgating. Dangerous, intimidating and the cause of serious accidents, this could land you on the wrong side of the law.
A study conducted by vehicle leasing company Select Car, revealed that tailgating is the road behaviour that causes us to be the most frightened and distressed while behind the wheel. Thirty two percent of respondents said that ‘drivers driving too close behind me’ was their biggest road-related fear.
With the festive season likely to see more traffic on the roads, it’s time to ensure your driving remains safe and within the law. As well as tailgating causing a danger on the roads, the penalty points could have a knock-on effect when it comes to renewing your motor trade insurance or fleet van insurance policy.
Keep Your Distance
In its recent campaign to clamp down on tailgating, Highways England netted almost 10,000 motorists driving too close behind others in the first two weeks of October. The ‘Don’t be a Space Invader’ campaign was being used to highlight the risks of what drivers are doing with an attempt to educate them properly.
Reducing casualties from tailgating was the overall aim of the campaign as more than 130 people were killed or seriously injured by incidents involving driving too close in 2018. Tailgating can lead to prosecution for ‘driving without due care and attention’, with a minimum £100 fine and three penalty points.
What is Tailgating?
Tailgating is a dangerous practice which entails a driver travelling too closely to the vehicle in front – making it doubtful they would avoid a crash if the driver in front were to brake quickly. It’s often done by fast travelling cars or vans to encourage (or bully, depending on your definition) drivers to move out of their way, putting both parties in danger.
Essentially it means not keeping a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front. The measure of ‘safe distance’ depends on the speed at which you are travelling, visibility and other road conditions. Remember the Highway Code and those questions asked during your driving test. Here’s a quick reminder for those who are a bit rusty:
Speed Thinking + braking distance Stopping distance
20mph 6m + 6m 12m (40 feet)
30mph 9m + 14m 23m (75 feet)
40mph 12m + 24m 36m (118 feet)
50mph 15m + 38m 53m (174 feet)
And with the easing of the COVID lockdown restrictions in early December, the UK’s roads will once again be packed with shoppers, retail fleet delivery trucks and vans all fighting for deadline space in winter conditions that are hazardous at the best of times.
Is Tailgating Illegal?
Tailgating falls under the careless driving offence and could land you with a £100 charge and three penalty points on your licence. Changes giving the police powers to issue fixed penalty notices for careless or inconsiderate driving came into effect in August 2013.
The offence of driving without due care and attention – also referred to as careless driving – covers a multitude of motoring sins. Defined in law as “allowing the standard of driving to fall below that of a competent and careful driver”, it carries a CD10 endorsement code, which can be issued against your driving licence.
The punishment for a CD10 conviction might include a fine, points on your licence or disqualification from driving. And code CD10 will remain on a driving record for four years from the date of the offence. In the worst cases, tailgating can result in a driving ban or even a prison sentence if a serious collision occurs as a result.
So, this festive season take a deep breath, ease your foot off the accelerator and spread a little joy to other road users. And it could be the best Christmas gift you’ll ever give.