By Becci Snow, Chartered Legal Executive at Hudgell Solicitors
This Wednesday, August 19, marks Injury Prevention Day, a day when the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) is urging us all to think about what we can do to help prevent needless injuries and accidents across the UK.
This year, APIL has quite rightly been placing a major focus on the dangers of tailgating – driving too closely to the car in front – in its work.
It is an offence it has labelled ‘as socially unacceptable as driving without a seatbelt’, and as specialists in handling thousands of car accident injury claims each year, we at Hudgell Solicitors agree entirely.
Our team knows all too well how a road traffic accident can happen in a split second, and when drivers haven’t left enough space to the car in front of them, serious injuries can occur, even at low speeds.
All of us will know the feelings of stress, intimidation and perhaps anger, we experience when look in our rear-view mirror and see a car right on our tail.
We are immediately made to feel at risk, and almost without fail, our own ability to drive safely is compromised as we spend too much time looking in our mirrors, and not enough focussing on the road ahead.
It is a dangerous situation, and one many drivers struggle to cope with.
It is perhaps interesting to consider how often we ourselves get frustrated with a driver in front. How often have you shouted towards a slow driver in front and lost patience with someone you considered to be a poor driver? On those occasions, were you perhaps guilty of tailgating?
The accepted guidance is that a proper gap between two vehicles is two seconds long, a distance you’ll see far too few people sticking to, even on motorways where it is often clearly marked on the road.
Should you be the victim of tailgating, there are a number of things you can do to help reduce the risk to you. They are;
- Remain calm: Allowing yourself to become flustered can lead to losing control
- Pull over: The simplest thing to do is to get out of the way when it is safe to do so
- Stay out of the outside lane: The tailgater just wants to get past and move along. When you judge it is safe for them to overtake, slow slightly and pull to the left.
- Maintain a constant speed: This allows the tailgater to predict when it is safe to overtake.
You should not:
- Speed up: Drivers who accelerate when the road straightens or when there is an overtaking lane can infuriate a tailgater and cause even more dangerous driving
- Try to “teach the tailgater a lesson”: It simply means your driving will be less safe, as well as the tailgaters.
- Tap the brake pedal: People do this to tell the following driver that they are travelling too close, but it rarely works and just makes a crash into the back of your car more likely.