TRL distributes free stickers as part of close following study

12.00 | 2 April 2014 | | 9 comments

TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) is distributing vehicle stickers free of charge as part of a study it is carrying out on behalf of the Highways Agency.

TRL has been commissioned by the Highways Agency to investigate the effectiveness of the stickers (or decals) on the close following behaviour of other drivers.

As part of the project, TRL is distributing the decals free of charge to organisations that are able to fix them to their vehicles operating in the UK. Due to the size of the decals (approximately 19cm x 47cm), the vehicles need to be either vans or lorries.

Poppy Husband, from TRL, said: “The relevant text is only readable to drivers who have left a gap of less than three seconds between their vehicle and the vehicle displaying the decal.

“For example, if a driver is driving at 50mph and is able to read the ‘50’, this indicates that they are driving too close. If they have left a safe following distance, which is defined as a three-second gap, they will not be able to read the ‘50’.

“The same applies if they are driving at 30mph and 70mph – the driver will only be able to see the 30 or 70 if they are driving too close.”

For more information or for a supply of the decals (FOC) contact Poppy Husband by email.


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    The idea that the two second gap is somehow not appropriate because the car ahead won’t stop dead is a common misconception. This thinking is wrong on two counts.

    First, if the car ahead hits another head-on, they’ll both stop dead.

    Second, it takes us time to RECOGNISE an unusual situation developing, above and beyond ‘thinking distance’ – in fact it can take two to three SECONDS to spot something we’re not expecting to happen, even if we’re being observant.

    So is two seconds too generous at 30? Maybe, maybe not. And at higher speeds, where the ‘double the speed, quadruple stopping distance’ rule applies, add an extra second.

    Kevin Williams
    Survival Skills Rider Training

    Kevin Williams, London
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Sadly, I think that those that choose to ignore or forget the highway code, won’t be convinced to change their driving habits and behaviour by using polite notices. I remember many years ago when I was around 18 and my friends and I were passing our tests, the comments down the pub like “He drives fast, but he’s a good driver!” were common place and a misconception of the young audience at the time. I suspect nothing has changed since, but alas whilst some of the drivers now physically older, have matured and changed their behaviour, I suspect far more have not. I drive 60k miles per year and see tailgating and antisocial driving all the time. The only thing speeding does is, cause accidents and delays the rest of us, just trying to get to our next location safely. I remember on one occasion traveling up the M40 on the inside lane at 70mph, I had a white van tailgating me for at least 1-2 miles, yet the road was fairly empty and plenty of opportunity to overtake. When the van pulled off at the next junction, I looked over to see who was driving the van and the driver seeing me looking at him, went it to what I can only describe as a cross between a fit and a mental breakdown, like some kind of caged animal. I was shocked, because I had done nothing and he was the aggressor, it brought it home to me, the mentality of some the road users out there. Scary.

    Rob Worthing
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    “The 2 second rule is ok up to 40 mph as in 2 seconds you have travelled 120ft and the stopping distance in total is 118ft”

    This is only relevant if the vehicle in front effectively stops dead. What is required is time to see, think, and react, not to stop. What used to be called “thinking distance” on the back of the Highway Code.

    “Apart from speeding, driving too close is the the most common indicator of poor driving so anything like this helps”

    Travelling faster than an arbitrary number on a pole has nothing at all to do with quality of driving. Unless of course by speeding you actually meant excess speed for conditions.

    Steve, Watford
    Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

    I have commented for some time that HGV drivers tailgate far too often and unfortunately need perhaps to mitigate their actions and drop back.

    The 2 second rule is ok up to 40 mph as in 2 seconds you have travelled 120ft and the stopping distance in total is 118ft. Anything over that speed needs a larger distance, ie. 50 mph=75ft per sec and a 3 second gap is 225ft travelled. The stopping distance at that speed is 175 ft in total. So the greater the gap, the greater the safety of all vehicles around and for all concerned. Greater allowances – ie time and distance – should be made for HGVs who may take 3 times as long to stop, and for motorcycles, and in the rain and or icy conditions or in fog.

    bob craven Lancs
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    Busy motorways average 1 second gap at 70mph – and I am surprised how many do not know that “Only a fool ignores the 2 second rule”. But 5 seconds Hugh – that would paralyse the road network.

    Here are a few ideas for stickers:

    “Tailgaters videod free of charge – collect yours from police”

    “You tailgate, I slow down”

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

    No harm in allowing an extra margin Duncan – I’ve even seen 5 seconds mentioned as a following distance somewhere. Maybe 2 seconds is the wrong advice.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    If it needs explaining, then it doesn’t work. Besides which I have always been told that it’s a two second rule, not a three second one.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Over the past four years, RoadDriver has funded and given away over hundred thousand “THINK- Please Keep a Safe Distance” car stickers to show our support for the “THINK” campaign which was also part of our pledge as signatories to the European Charter for Road Safety. For those who wish a free sticker please visit:

    Charles Dunn
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Apart from speeding, driving too close is the the most common indicator of poor driving so anything like this helps – in principle anyway. I have seen stickers on the rear of vehicles which say somethimg like “If you can read this you’re too close!”

    Taking this idea a step further, why not equip vehicles with a sensor at the rear which, when a following vehicle is detected as being too close, can light up for the benefit of the following driver “TOO CLOSE!”?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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