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 Post subject: Tailgating
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 15:14 
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Currently tailgating is one of the greatest causes of accidents on our roads, yet in this country it is not a specific offence.

Excluding those who speed in built-up areas where the speed limit is there for the benefit of pedestrians not motorists, not all speeding motorists are guilty of bad driving.

Driving at 80 mph or 90 mph on an empty motorway is hardly a danger to anyone, whereas driving at 40 mph or 50 mph tailgating the vehicle in front on any road is. This of course is exacerbated at much higher speeds on dual carriageways and motorways. All to often the reason for an accident is put down to speed when tailgating was the real cause. Rarely does speed alone cause an accident.

I look forward to your comments on this, and invite you to add your name to a petition on the “10 Downing Street E-Petitions” website at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/OutlawTailgating/ calling on the government to bring in legislation to make tailgating a specific offence, and to instruct the police to be more active in prosecuting offending drivers.

John W


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 15:27 
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I wonder how many people who are of a mind to support your petition are themselves unwitting tailgaters and thus would find themselves being prosecuted under any new regulation.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 15:29 
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Rigpig wrote:
I wonder how many people who are of a mind to support your petition are themselves unwitting tailgaters and thus would find themselves being prosecuted under any new regulation.


Yep. I do think that most people who tailgate do it because they don't actually know how close they should be...

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 15:36 
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Rigpig wrote:
I wonder how many people who are of a mind to support your petition are themselves unwitting tailgaters and thus would find themselves being prosecuted under any new regulation.


How can anyone unwittingly tailgate? There is a big difference between being a little closer than the two second rule, and tailgating (right up your hind quarters). In anycase someone unwittingly tailgating is just as much a danger as someone agressevly tailgating.

John W


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 15:45 
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Surely it is classed as dangerous driving, if it is dangerous? There are too many specific offences and yet another one would just allow the government to make money from people, possibly using tailgating cameras.

It would be a bit like the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003, AKA the stupid mobile phone law. This effectively made it illegal to drive while using a mobile phone if doing so was safe. Because if it was dangerous then it was already illegal.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 15:56 
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Defining a ‘tailgating’ distance is much like trying to define a safe numerical speed for all occasions – impossible.

What’s safe in the dry, isn’t in the wet etc. etc.

Education is what's needed, not legislation.

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 16:06 
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Ziltro wrote:
Surely it is classed as dangerous driving, if it is dangerous? There are too many specific offences and yet another one would just allow the government to make money from people, possibly using tailgating cameras.

It would be a bit like the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003, AKA the stupid mobile phone law. This effectively made it illegal to drive while using a mobile phone if doing so was safe. Because if it was dangerous then it was already illegal.


I can see that you are a lost cause when you quoted the mobile phone law. What is needed is education, and unfortunately many people don't learn either until either it's too late, or they get caught out in other ways.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 16:19 
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What you are claiming is entirely valid. Tailgating is stupid beyond reason. But try and define it. You’ll end up with something as ineffective as Speed Cameras.

JohnW1st wrote:
What is needed is education


And I see no mention of ‘Education’ in the petition.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 16:25 
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Grumpy Old Biker wrote:
Defining a ‘tailgating’ distance is much like trying to define a safe numerical speed for all occasions – impossible.

What’s safe in the dry, isn’t in the wet etc. etc.

Education is what's needed, not legislation.


I could not agree with you more, but how long as education been going on already – YEARS! As I said above, some don't learn until it's too late, and others until they are hit with other things like a warning, or fine etc. Unfortunately some will never learn to the cost of the poor sod in front, and often other road users.

Re the distance - the “two second rule” is a good start. The offenders that really need clobbering are the ones that drive inches away from the vehicle in front, and that should be easy enough to define. They manage it in Germany and other counties so why not here.

Let’s get the emphasis away from speed and onto the real problems, this perhaps being the biggest.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 16:31 
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But education HASN'T been going on for years. Driver training is woefully inadequate - I don't think I was EVER taught the 2 second rule by any official body, or TV / radio / other media.

The only 'education' that's been going on over the last few years is SPEED KILLS which is why we're in the state we're in.

As for mobile phone law, as Ziltro states, it was already covered (as is tailgating BTW) by driving without due care / careless / dangerous driving. The trouble is there's no bloody police about to enforce it.

I can see if 'technology' were used to detect tailgating, innocent people being prosecuted for closing the gap prior to an overtake for example.

IMO the most benifitial thing to petition for is more police and better (and CONTINUOUS) driver education / assessment.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 16:33 
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JohnW1st wrote:
In anycase someone unwittingly tailgating is just as much a danger as someone agressevly tailgating.


Yes, maybe they are. But, and this was my point, do they realise it? Driving too close to the vehicle ahead is something many drivers do routinely; if a specific offence meant drivers were getting pulled left right and centre then there would be an outcry just as there is now over speeding.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 16:37 
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JohnW1st wrote:
I can see that you are a lost cause when you quoted the mobile phone law.

:scratchchin: I am?

If tailgating is always dangerous then anyone doing it is already guilty of dangerous driving.

Education is good. Laws are bad. Most of them aren't a deterrent or are just there to make money.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 16:43 
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Sixy_the_red wrote:
But education HASN'T been going on for years. Driver training is woefully inadequate - I don't think I was EVER taught the 2 second rule by any official body, or TV / radio / other media...


You have just underlined my point on education - the "Two Second Rule" has been about for ten or more years, so far back I can't remember when it started. It's even in the Highway Code!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 16:45 
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JohnW1st wrote:
They manage it in Germany and other counties so why not here.


Well interestingly enough because in Germany they have these strange (as in a rarity) people called traffic police.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 16:49 
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I agree that tailgating is an education issue. Several factors complicate, or even invalidate anti-tailgating legislation.

- How do you tell the difference between someone who has been carved up (and is temporarily close to the vehicle that cut in) from somone who chose an over-close position? The answer, generally, is in continuing evidence, but it does cause serious problems for dreams of automated enforcement.

- Many of the best advanced driving courses, including Police driver training courses, recommend a transient close following position ('the contact position') in preparation for overtaking.

- Very close following may frequently cause crashes, but the crashes it causes tend to be tiny bumps because there's no opportunity for much in the way of differential speed to develop.

- The worst cases of tailgating are actually deliberate intimidation. I'd be very disappointed if anti-tailgating legislation tended to deliver a routine minor penalty for intimidatory driving.

- Having looked in the past at 'specifying tailgating', I came to the conclusion that following at less than 1 second was about the best bet. However, 1 second is less than the average headway that drivers choose (~1.6sec), so while we might influence a few aggressive driver to drop back, we might also tend to cause millions of ordinary drivers to close up.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 16:51 
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JohnW1st wrote:
Sixy_the_red wrote:
But education HASN'T been going on for years. Driver training is woefully inadequate - I don't think I was EVER taught the 2 second rule by any official body, or TV / radio / other media...


You have just underlined my point on education - the "Two Second Rule" has been about for ten or more years, so far back I can't remember when it started. It's even in the Highway Code!


Yet I've held my licence for less than 10 years AND WAS NEVER TAUGHT IT.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 17:02 
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Sixy_the_red wrote:
JohnW1st wrote:
Sixy_the_red wrote:
But education HASN'T been going on for years. Driver training is woefully inadequate - I don't think I was EVER taught the 2 second rule by any official body, or TV / radio / other media...


You have just underlined my point on education - the "Two Second Rule" has been about for ten or more years, so far back I can't remember when it started. It's even in the Highway Code!


Yet I've held my licence for less than 10 years AND WAS NEVER TAUGHT IT.


I was taught it well over 20 years ago - but 'policy' and official information played no part. I paid for advanced courses.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 17:07 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
I agree that tailgating is an education issue. Several factors complicate, or even invalidate anti-tailgating legislation...



Perhaps the biggest problem we have outside people ‘getting’ education (it’s out there for those that take the trouble to listen and look) is when a serious ‘tailgating offence’ takes place and the police want to prosecute then currently they have to prove ‘dangerous driving’ or similar, which is often difficult to do even when the evidence is there.

Obviously wrinkles like closing when actually overtaking etc would need ironing out (I was taught to drop back and do my acceleration before overtaking, but that’s another story) but the police need something to hang their hat on – like the mobile phone legislation which they initially said wasn’t needed because it was covered by other laws like ‘driving without due care and attention’ etc. How wrong they were there.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 17:14 
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There is already a law to cover it, so you don't need another one. If you think the criminalisation route is the right one to take, then the police need encouraging to enforce it more. No wait, we have no cops on the roads becuase strict liability offences such as this can be monitored by machine.

The two second rule might be a start with an education, but its often wrong for the conditions. We need to educate and then empower drivers to make their own safe assessment of the appropriate gap for the conditions. Psychological factors of what causes 'road rage', or even minor irritation with other drivers, need investigating, since I have little doubt this is a significant factor in tailgating.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 19:30 
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I'm not defending it, but is tailgating really a major cause of accidents? What proportion of accidents are rear-end shunts, which are the only ones that can be linked to it?

And I would suggest that even in rear-end shunts, lack of attention is the main reason. If your attention is elsewhere it's all too easy to run into the back of someone even if two, three or four seconds back from them.

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