Half of mo­torists guilty of tail­gat­ing, claims Aussie study

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS - Jamie Mor­ton

Tail­gat­ing might be one of the most an­noy­ing things we put up with on the roads — but a study sug­gests about half of driv­ers do it.

Re­search just shared at this year’s Aus­tralasian Road Safety Con­fer­ence found many mo­torists mon­i­tored in Queens­land were leav­ing less than a two-sec­ond gap be­tween them and the ve­hi­cle in front.

The study out of Queens­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy also di­rectly linked the ag­gres­sive prac­tice with rear-en­ders, which ac­counted for one in five crashes in the Aus­tralian state.

“This study, for the first time con­clu­sively linked tail­gat­ing with rearend crashes, but we also iden­ti­fied con­fu­sion among driv­ers over what is deemed to be a safe fol­low­ing dis­tance,” said study leader Dr Se­bastien Dem­mel, who pre­sented the find­ings this week.

“De­spite driv­ers per­ceiv­ing they are fol­low­ing at a safe dis­tance, our on-road data showed that in re­al­ity most don’t leave the rec­om­mended two to three-sec­ond gap,” he said.

“At some lo­ca­tions 55 per cent of driv­ers were found to leave less than a two-sec­ond gap be­tween them and the ve­hi­cle in front, and 44 per cent less than one sec­ond.”

The be­hav­iour, rated one of the most an­noy­ing driv­ing habits in an AA mem­ber sur­vey, was a con­tribut­ing fac­tor in 10 deaths on New Zealand’s roads in 2015 and has seen 2141 peo­ple tick­eted in the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial year. Tail­gat­ing can at­tract fines of $150. Greater Auck­land — in­clud­ing the Coun­ties Manukau, Auck­land and Waitem­ata po­lice dis­tricts — topped the list with 656 in­fringe­ments, with the Bay of Plenty and Can­ter­bury com­ing next with 305 and 273 tick­ets is­sued re­spec­tively.

The Aussie study used Queens­land state road crash data to pin­point rear-end crash black spots, and on­road mon­i­tor­ing to de­ter­mine driv­ing con­di­tions, speed and tail­gat­ing.

More than 500 driv­ers were also sur­veyed on their per­cep­tions of driv­ing be­hav­iour and their knowl­edge of safe fol­low­ing dis­tances.

Dem­mel said it was con­cern­ing that most driv­ers re­ported keep­ing the same gap re­gard­less of traf­fic flow or road type.

“One of the rea­sons driv­ers may not be leav­ing a safe fol­low­ing dis­tance is be­cause 60 per cent used me­tres or another unit of dis­tance rather than the rec­om­mended se­conds to as­sess a safe fol­low­ing dis­tance.”

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