A warning is being sent out to drivers about the dangers of tailgating.
‘Don’t be a space invader – stay safe, stay back,’ says Highways England.
New figures show that one in eight of all road casualties are caused by people who drive too close to the vehicle in front, with more than 100 people killed or seriously injured each year.
A Highways England spokesman said: “While a small minority of tailgating is deliberate, most is unintentional by drivers who are simply unaware they are dangerously invading someone else’s space.
“In the South East, figures from 2016 show that tailgating was a contributing factor resulting in 600 casualties.”
A safety campaign launched today (Monday, September 17) uses the Space Invader video game character to alert drivers to the risks of tailgating.
A survey by Highways England reveals that tailgating is the biggest bugbear that drivers have about other road users.
In-car research - using dashcams, facial recognition, emotion tracking and heart monitors - reveals that a driver’s typical reaction to someone who tailgates them is surprise, anger and contempt, with a spike in heart rate.
Nearly 9 out of 10 people say they have either been tailgated or seen it. And more than a quarter of drivers admitted to tailgating.
The campaign is supported by former Formula 1 world champion Nigel Mansell, who is President of the Institute of Advanced Motorists 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 says good drivers leave plenty of safe space for themselves and others.
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.”