New high-tech speed cameras will target thousands of ‘dangerous tailgaters’

A new breed of roadside cameras is being introduced to counter the menace of tailgating.

Almost 10,000 vehicles were caught tailgating in the first two weeks of new cameras being tested to clamp down on the offence.

Motorists caught tailgating can expect to receive letters advising them they were too close to another vehicle and highlighting the dangers of not leaving safe braking distances.

A survey for Highways England, the government-owned company which is in the midst of a £7 million rebrand to its new name National Highways, found that while more than a quarter of drivers admitted to tailgating, nearly nine in 10 people say they have either been tailgated or seen it happen.

The Department for Transport recently published figures showing that serious crashes caused by tailgating were at their highest level for at least seven years.

Last year 627 serious accidents were recorded as having been caused by a driver "following too close", of which 28 resulted in deaths.

That figure is almost 50% higher than the two previous years.

Drivers can be fined a minimum of £100 for tailgating, and earn three penalty points on their licence, which counts as "driving without due care and attention".

In the Highway Code, motorists are instructed to leave a gap of at least two seconds to the vehicle in front. At 70mph motorists are recommended to leave a gap of 3.1 seconds. On wet roads, those gaps should be doubled.

Highways England says that tailgating caused around one in eight casualties on motorways and A-roads.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton, the transport minister, said: "Through this campaign I hope we see tailgating drop, making our roads, already some of the safest in the world, safer still."

PC Dave Lee, from Northamptonshire Police's safer roads team, said: "People who carry out this extremely dangerous behaviour are not just putting themselves at risk, but the lives of other road users."

Caroline Layton, who is a data and intelligence analyst for Highways England, has released a video of an incident on the M27 when she feared her small car was going to be "hit and crushed" as a lorry loomed up dangerously close behind her in the motorway roadworks.

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