Mike Waters' blog: 1 February 2010 - Too close for comfort
01 February 2010
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
There are many things that annoy drivers ranging from bad weather and potholes to congestion and road works. However, for me the biggest frustration is drivers that tailgate; sitting dangerously close to your bumper in an attempt to intimidate you into speeding up or moving over, even when you're driving at the legal speed limit.
It's very clear that I'm not alone in this view as several surveys indicate that fellow motorists driving too close to the driver in front have been identified as the most annoying driving behaviour. A recent example from the RAC shows that 72 per cent of drivers were most irritated by others driving too close.
The practice of tailgating is estimated to be the cause of 7 per cent of UK road traffic accidents. What the drivers that do it don't seem to recognise is that sitting on someones bumper, even if they move over, produces minimal gain, whereas at times it can lead to the maximum loss... serious injury or death.
A new issue emerging from this behaviour is that many (normally law-abiding) motorists are finding themselves falling foul of the law for exceeding speed limits because they are being or have been tailgated by more aggressive, law-breaking drivers.
Instead of slowing down, many bullied drivers react to the intimidation by putting their foot down, even if it means breaking the law themselves and risking prosecution. While it seems unjust, if you get caught over the limit, being tailgated is no defence in the eyes of the law.
One of the primary causes of tailgating is thought to be drivers in a rush to get somewhere and business drivers are one of the worst culprits. At-work drivers are more likely to tailgate and speed on motorways and in towns than other drivers according to research from national road safety charity Brake.
It shows that the majority of at-work drivers are feeling pressurised to get somewhere fast and as a result, 61 per cent of at-work-drivers admit to leaving less than a two-second gap between their vehicle and the vehicle in front, compared to 40 per cent of other drivers. For others it seems to be no more than a ridiculous driving habit but whatever the reason, they need to cut it out.
Being tailgated is intimidating, frustrating and infuriating but you need to be the bigger person and don't get involved with these idiots. While it may seem unfair the best option is to pull over and keep out of trouble, and certainly don't be forced into breaking the speed limit yourself because of pressure from another driver.