Highways England has launched a new campaign on the back of figures showing one in eight road casualties are caused by people who drive too close to the vehicle in front.
The campaign uses the well-known Space Invader video game character to alert drivers to the anti-social nature and risks of tailgating.
Highways England says while a small minority of tailgating is deliberate, most is an unintentional act by drivers who are ‘simply unaware they are dangerously invading someone else’s space’.
Highways England also points to figures suggesting tailgating is linked to more than 100 KSIs each year.
As part of the campaign, Highways England has launched a dedicated webpage where drivers can find more information about tailgating and what they can do to stay safe.
It has also published the findings of a new survey which reveals tailgating is the ‘biggest single bugbear that drivers have about other road users’.
The survey suggests that nearly 90% of drivers have either been tailgated or seen it, while more than a quarter of drivers admitted to committing the action.
The campaign is supported by former Formula 1 world champion Nigel Mansell, who is president of IAM RoadSmart.
He said: “Tailgating is a driving habit I utterly deplore. Not only is it aggressive and intimidating, but it can lead to a crash with a tragic outcome.
“There is absolutely no upside to it – you will not get to your destination faster, you are not a skilled driver for doing it, and you are putting so many innocent people at risk. So I very much back this campaign to highlight the dangers of tailgating.”
Highways England is encouraging drivers to abide by the Highway Code, which says that drivers should allow at least a two second gap, which should be doubled on wet roads.
Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, says: “If you get too close to the car in front, you won’t be able to react and stop in time if they suddenly brake.
“Tailgating makes the driver in front feel targeted and victimised, distracting their attention from the road ahead and making them more likely to make a mistake.
“It is intimidating and frightening if you’re on the receiving end. If that leads to a collision, then people in both vehicles could end up seriously injured or killed. We want everyone to travel safely, so the advice is – stay safe, stay back.”