Highways England catches tailgaters on camera

09.28 | 4 January 2021 | | 6 comments

Highways England is trialing the use of new cameras to clamp down on tailgating, an offence it says is a factor in around one in eight casualties on England’s motorways and major A roads.

The cameras are designed to make drivers “aware of their behaviour” and have been trialled on the M1 in Northamptonshire since November 2020.

According to the RAC, the new system has recorded 26,000 tailgating offences in the first two months of the trial.

Motorists caught tailgating by the cameras can expect to receive letters advising them they were too close to another vehicle, highlighting the dangers of not leaving safe braking distances.

Jeremy Phillips, Highways England’s head of road safety, said: “These new cameras have, sadly, highlighted just how many people are driving too close on our roads.

“We understand that most tailgating is unintentional by drivers who are simply unaware they are dangerously invading someone else’s space. But not leaving enough space between you and the vehicle in front can be very frightening and intimidating – it could also prove fatal.

“We are trialling the new cameras to make drivers aware of their behaviour and encourage better driving.”

A survey carried out for Highways England also found that while more than a quarter of drivers admitted to tailgating, nearly nine in 10 people say they have either been tailgated or seen it.

Baroness Vere, roads minister, said: “When people think of the causes of road accidents, tailgating probably isn’t one of them, but it’s one that can have dangerous repercussions. 

“Highways England’s innovative plans are already showing how serious and reckless this behaviour is, and through this campaign I hope we see tailgating drop, making our roads, already some of the safest in the world, safer still.”



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    It appears that many drivers either don’t know or ignore the Two Second Rule and although the Highway Code Rule 126 is quite clear in that you should: “Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear”, it is quite subjective. It would be interesting to know what the HE criteria for prosecutions are and whether the technology can determine the stopping distance between two vehicles.
    Tailgating is careless driving and could be classed on dangerous depending on the circumstances.

    Keith, Northampton
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    Ruth : If 9 out of ten people have seen tailgating it would seem that they know what it is : driving so closely that you couldn’t reliably avoid collision if the vehicle in front suddenly stopped.
    Obviously the distance depends on speed and conditions so matter of judgement.

    Paul Luton, Teddington
    Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

    I would define tailgating as any distance less than a minimum 2 second time gap from the vehicle in front. Tailgating is as much, if not more dangerous than talking on the phone whilst driving. Having a few coaching sessions with an experienced trainer is a great and fun way of learning about driving safely on the motorway.

    Kevin Barker, Preston
    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

    I’d like to think the issue is more pronounced with HGVs, buses and coaches that are riding up against their installed speed limiters.

    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (8) | Disagree (2)

    A tailgater is a speeder temporarily obstructed by another vehicle. Once the ‘obstruction’ is out of the way, they become a speeder again. So, if a speed camera doesn’t nab them, maybe these tailgating cameras will, although reading the article, it doesnt mention subsequent prosecution.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (4) | Disagree (11)

    Please can HE give a definition of ‘tailgating’? How close is too close? What offence is the driver committing? I’m not been awkward as I’m aware that this project has been in the planning for many years, but if drivers need to be educated on tailgating, we need to be clear what this exactly means and I’ve never found an clear answer to this question. Any comments would be useful.

    Ruth Gore, Beverley
    Agree (11) | Disagree (4)

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