Tailgating is more likely to cause a van to have an accident than speeding, bad weather or drink-driving, new research has revealed.
Following the vehicle ahead too closely caused 4,256 accidents last year, resulting in 6,184 injuries, including 19 fatalities, according to figures from the Department for Transport. Of these accidents, 8% involved light commercial vehicles – equal to 10 injuries per week, research by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles found.
As well as causing injuries, these accidents force vans off the road and into Van Centres for costly repairs. Downtime costs fleets an average of £550 a day per van, according to the Association of British Insurers.
A-roads are the most common place for tailgating accidents to occur – 55% happened on one of these routes.
Tailgating is a punishable offence; those found guilty of it face a £100 fine and three penalty points on their licence. In the worst cases, tailgating can result in a driving ban or even a prison sentence if a serious collision occurs as a result.
There is technology available now to mitigate against tailgating, such as adaptive cruise control, which keeps vehicles a safe distance behind what is ahead.
Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “Tailgating is the biggest single bugbear that motorway users in particular report. Surveys suggest almost half of drivers feel scared and get angry about it. Keeping your distance means you can observe what is happening around and ahead of you much better and gives you time to react to the unexpected.
“Rear-end shunts simply cause massive hold ups and delay deliveries so it is in everyone’s interest that drivers follow the two second rule and leave a safe space in front of them. If the space get filled simply create a new one – it will only add seconds to your journey and reduce your stress levels. If you are being tailgated never overreact as that will only inflame the situation; stay in control and let them pass.”