Driving isn't a game

If you tailgate the car in front, you’ll have less time to react.

Are you a space invader?

title Stay safe stay back

Driving isn’t a game. Tailgating causes accidents – and you don’t get an extra life in the real world.

Driving too close to the vehicle in front is dangerous and can make it impossible to avoid a collision in an emergency. Tailgating was the third most common contributory factor in deaths and serious injuries on UK motorways in 2016.

In fact, tailgating is the biggest single bugbear that drivers have about other motorway users. Nearly 9 out of 10 (87%) drivers say they’ve experienced or witnessed it.


“Tailgating is a factor in 1 in 8 casualties on the strategic road network.”


Tailgating is very common on our roads and has many serious consequences.

In our survey 25% of drivers admitted to:

“driving too close to the car in front,
making it difficult to stop in an emergency”.

Casualties on our roads

“Tailgating is a factor in 1 in 8 casualties on the strategic road network.”



In the last three months

Drivers who witnessed a vehicle being driven too close to the vehicle in front.



What emotions were felt

What witnesses felt about drivers driving too close.

46%      Scared

46%      Angry

31%      Frustrated

Driving too close to the car in front makes it difficult to stop in an emergency.

We associate tailgating with aggressive, ‘own the road’ speed-merchants, trying to intimidate other drivers to get out of their way.

But many of us could be tailgating unintentionally, by misjudging our speed and the distance we need to stop safely.

The Highway Code says you should “allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic”. The two seconds are made up of the time needed for thinking and stopping. And when it’s raining you need to at least double that gap.


So if you don’t leave a minimum two-second gap, you could be putting yourself and others in danger.

dont be a space invader stay back stay safe
Our Space Invader ‘Tailgating’ campaign aims to reduce the number of people who are killed and seriously injured on our roads.

In this film Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research, and Martin Smith, Highways England Traffic Officer, discuss the dangers of tailgating and how to ‘Stay Safe, Stay Back’ from the vehicle in front to prevent incidents.

Stay safe

Tailgating makes other drivers feel intimidated, scared and bullied. While it may not be intentional by the driver behind, to those in the car in front, it feels aggressive and personal.

Some drivers readily admit to tailgating but wouldn’t dream of drink driving or using a handheld mobile phone. Many of them think and say they are really good drivers

Drivers should stay aware of how dangerous or intimidating their driving could be.

“There is absolutely no upside to tailgating – 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.” Nigel Mansell, Former Formula 1 world champion, President of IAM RoadSmart

stay back

What you should do

  • Just drive normally:
    The key is to not let the tailgater’s poor behaviour negatively influence your own driving. Simply continue to drive safely and cautiously, aware but not affected by their presence.
  • Allow them to overtake:
    Keep a steady speed so they may overtake. Alternatively, pull to the side of the road, or turn off at a petrol station, but only if it is safe to do so.
  • Clearly signal:
    Ensure the tailgater has a clear idea of your intentions by signalling early and changing your speed well in advance of a turn off.

What you shouldn’t do

  • Don’t speed up:
    Generally this will encourage the tailgater to speed up behind you. Continue to travel at a safe speed. Do not allow the pressure from the tailgater to influence you to drive unsafely.
  • Don’t slow down:
    Intentionally slowing down to irritate the close follower or tapping the brake lights can trigger road rage and cause more dangerous scenarios to arise.
  • Don’t stare in the rear-view mirror: 
    It can be tempting to stare at the driver behind but can cause you to lose focus on what’s in front of you.

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