Half of motorists guilty of tailgating, claims Aussie study
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.”