Tailgating: why we all need to back off

Many of us will have witnessed crashes on the motorways as we head off on our holidays, with dented cars and crumpled caravans parked diagonally on the hard shoulder, tutting as we drive (slowly) past as the M5 has once again been reduced to a crawl.

But did you know that often these rear end collisions are caused by the relatively common practice of ‘tailgating?’  I’m not just talking about the aggressive, road-rage type tailgating that gets you a mention on News at Ten, but the comparatively tolerable exercise of driving just a few feet behind the car in front … just a little too close … because you are frustrated that the traffic is not moving at the speed of your liking, or you just want to get home, or you are running late … thus rendering you unable to stop safely without slamming your radiator into their boot when they brake.

Tailgating is - quite simply - dangerous.  You are more likely to crash. At low speeds, a crash may inflict injuries on those who had the misfortune to be in the car in front.  Worse still, high speed tailgating could cause more serious injuries.  Regardless, it results in damage to vehicles, and injury to people, insurance companies get involved, and your name appears on a file on a lawyer’s desk.

No-one sets out to deliberately crash and injure the people in front, and many tailgate ‘unconsciously’ without being aware of the risk they are taking.  There is a theory that more experienced drivers tailgate because they are comfortable on the road and overestimate their own ability to stop – particularly in poor weather conditions such as the torrential rain in July.  But even inadvertent tailgating is negligent – a high risk activity – and the ‘tailgater’ is held responsible for the consequences.

Back in 2013 the police were granted additional powers to stop tailgating and lane hogging with a view to making our roads safer.  But is it working?  Have fixed penalty notices been handed out to tailgaters and lane hoggers?  We will see.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has launched Injury Prevention Day in the hope that something positive can come out of the thousands of accident claims that our lawyers deal with every year. Click here to watch our video on the dangers of tailgating.  Encourage others to watch it.  Raising awareness will make good drivers think twice, and may stop occasional lapses becoming a dangerous habit.

Sometimes you don’t have to do a lot to make the world a safer place, to prevent needless injury.  Let’s work together to stop tailgating.

Join the ‘Back Off’ campaign on Facebook here and follow #IPDay2015 on Twitter on 19 August.

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