July 5, 2019
Don’t Be a Space Invader is the name of a recent campaign launched by Highways England that uses the well-known Space Invader video game character to alert drivers to the anti-social nature and risks of tailgating. Highways England say that one in eight of all road casualties are caused by people who drive too close to the vehicle in front, with more than 100 people killed or seriously injured each year.
Having surveyed drivers, Highways England found that tailgating is the biggest single irritation that drivers feel about other road users. In-car research – using dashcams, facial recognition, emotion tracking and heart monitors – shows that a driver’s typical reaction to someone who tailgates them is surprise, anger and contempt, with a spike in heart rate.
The campaign is supported by one of the UK’s most famous drivers: former Formula 1 world champion Nigel Mansell, who is President of the Institute of Advanced Motorists RoadSmart, Nigel says:
“Tailgating is a driving habit I utterly deplore. Not only is it aggressive and intimidating, but it can lead to a crash with a tragic outcome.
“There is absolutely no upside to it – you will not get to your destination faster, you are not a skilled driver for doing it, and you are putting so many innocent people at risk. So I very much back this campaign to highlight the dangers of tailgating.”
Richard Leonard, Head of Road Safety at Highways England, says:
“If you get too close to the car in front, you won’t be able to react and stop in time if they suddenly brake.
“Tailgating makes the driver in front feel targeted and victimised, distracting their attention from the road ahead and making them more likely to make a mistake.
“It is intimidating and frightening if you’re on the receiving end. If that leads to a collision, then people in both vehicles could end up seriously injured or killed. We want everyone to travel safely, so the advice is – stay safe, stay back.
The Highway Code states that drivers should allow at least a two second gap and this time is doubled on wet roads. If you are tailgated, then avoid speeding up, slowing down or staring in the rear-view mirror. Reduce the risk to yourself by driving normally, signalling clearly and allowing people to overtake.”
Any car accident that you have inevitably costs you money and being hit from behind, we are told, accounted for about a quarter of all accident claims from January to August this year.
Andy Watson, Chief Executive of insurer Ageas, says:
“A bump won’t just damage your vehicle, it’s likely that it will also hit your pocket when it comes to renew your insurance. So we urge all drivers to follow the advice of Highways England and back off from the driver in front.”
Thatcham Research are experts in vehicle safety technology, vehicle security and crash repair. Director of Research at Thatcham, Matthew Avery, says:
“Tailgating is one of the most dangerous driver behaviours seen on UK roads. Not only does it intimidate others and create ‘phantom’ traffic jams via the ripple effect of sharp braking, it is also a leading cause of accidents. Thatcham Research is proud to offer our full support to this potentially life-saving Highways England campaign.”
National Express, which will carry the campaign on some of its long-distance coaches, is among supporters of the campaign that also include the National Police Chiefs Council, leading road safety bodies Brake and the Institute for Advanced Motorists, and the motor insurer Thatcham.
The campaign is being shown via TV adverts, social media and their website.
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