Tag Archives | tailgating

Too close for comfort

You’re driving at the speed limit but someone behind you just can’t bear it. So how do you deal with it? You might assume they’re bullying and impatient, but not every tailgater is making an aggressive move. Many drivers get too close to the car in front because they’re distracted or have developed bad habits over the years. Don’t assume they are angry as this can make you feel intimidated and lead to mistakes. If the driver behind does not maintain a safe distance, don’t be bullied into speeding up as they will probably speed up as well and close the gap again which makes it worse because now you’re than speeding up to 50mph in a 40mph zone because you’re being pressured. You might want to consider P-plates on your car for a year after you pass your test as they can act as a reminder to the driver behind. It’s easy to find yourself looking for too long in your rear-view mirror when the real hazards are in front of you. If you’re feeling bothered pull over safely to let them pass. Tailgating frequently happens in 20 and 30mph zones, precisely the places where speed limits are most important, such as rural roads or school zones. Someone trying to pressure you into driving at an unsafe speed is not worth your worry, so hold steady.


When it comes to fines associated with tailgating, research shows that one in three drivers are unaware there are official penalties. These can range from a caution, referral to driver improvement scheme, £100 fine and three penalty points, a driving ban or even prison.

While many drivers will have experienced being the victim of tailgating, fewer see themselves as the perpetrator. There seems to be a double standard: a lot of drivers are happy to get somebody else to speed up or move over in this manner, but don’t like it when it’s done to them. According to the police, many motorists inadvertently tailgate due to a lack of awareness of the correct distance to leave between your car and the one in front. This is why the ‘two second rule’ is so important in keeping a safe distance between your car and the one in-front. To check you are following the rule, simply pick a roadside landmark (like a sign, lamp post or tree) and when the vehicle in front of you passes it, start counting ‘one thousand and one, one thousand and two’. If you pass the landmark before you finish counting then you need to drop back and stop tailgating.

Science and traffic jams

We’ve all been there: traffic grinds to a halt and you inch along expecting to see an incident or broken down car, but then everyone gets back up to speed with no apparent reason for the slow down. It turns out that there is a good reason and it can all be explained through science.

It comes down to drivers’ inability to hold a consistent speed or distance from the car in front. Essentially people travel at different speeds, then slow down a bit too much when they catch up with another car. The car behind them then slows down a bit more, and the car behind them a bit more, and so on. Eventually, thanks to the fact we can’t just hold it steady and impatient drivers can’t resist tailgating, we end up with pointless jams. That’s why smart motorways are being introduced to manage traffic flow better.

Stop worrying

As long as you believe you are driving safely, it doesn’t really matter what some other motorist thinks about you. Say, for example, you’re doing the speed limit on a two-lane country road and some pushy driver is tailgating. Do you worry about it? You shouldn’t. Even if you speed up, that same driver would probably still be tailgating. After all, do you really care what somebody you don’t know thinks about your driving? The important thing is to keep driving safely. Tailgating happens most in 20 and 30mph zones – precisely the places where speed limits are most important because they are usually built-up areas, school zones or rural roads. Some unknown driver trying to pressure you into driving at an unsafe speed in an area with lots of potential hazards is not worth your time.