Annoyance and dangers of tailgating

New research reveals that tailgating is not only one of the most annoying habits drivers experience on the road, it causes many motorists to make dangerous decisions of their own.

A study for Kwik Fit showed that 89% of drivers say they find tailgating by other drivers either very or moderately annoying, second only to dangerous overtaking (92%), and three quarters (75%) would take action in response to a car following too closely.

The most popular course of action for drivers being tailgated is to slow down to leave a wider gap between them and the car in front, with the aim of encouraging the tailgater to do the same. This move would be adopted by 37% of tailgated motorists, however many drivers take riskier measures.

Over a third (34%) of drivers, some 13.9 million licence holders, say that if being followed too closely by the car behind they would lightly dab their brakes to make their brake lights come on without slowing down. 8% of drivers would use their fog lights, flicking them on to make the driver behind think that they are braking. One in ten drivers (10%) go even further, saying they would brake sharply to get the car behind to back off. 

Kwik Fit found that 11% of drivers say they would increase their speed when being tailgated, but that can clearly be dangerous if the driver ends up going too fast for the conditions or their own comfort.

Almost one in ten drivers (9%) admit to making a ‘revenge attack’, pulling over to let the tailgating car pass, and then pulling back out to follow as closely as the first tailgater had been doing. 7% of drivers would make some sort of hand gesture at the driver behind them in an effort to get them to back off.

Despite almost every driver stating that tailgating is one of the most annoying habits displayed by other drivers, a third of motorists (33%) in Kwik Fit’s study admitted that a car they have been following has reacted to their presence in some way.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said, ‘The accident statistics show very clearly that many road casualties are caused by cars following too closely. This research highlights that the danger doesn’t just come from tailgaters not being able to stop in time, but from the negative reactions they cause in other drivers.’