By Jane Woodhams
Last updated on: December 14, 2017 at 12:40 pm
Figures obtained by RAA show the number of drivers caught tailgating has increased by almost 10% since 2014/15, with police pulling over thousands of drivers and issuing almost half a million dollars in fines last financial year.
The latest police figures have prompted RAA Insurance to warn that tailgating drivers face a $358 fine (plus a $60 Victims of Crime Levy) and will also be deemed at fault if they rear-end the vehicle in front of them.
‘More than 3200 drivers were cautioned or fined for tailgating last financial year,’ RAA Insurance Senior Claims Manager Hayley Cain says.
‘That’s very concerning because tailgating is dangerous and contributes to the fact rear-end crashes are the most common type of collision on our roads.
‘It’s important for everyone’s safety that drivers keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them. What’s more, from an insurance point of view, the driver who rear-ends another vehicle is considered at fault.’
The number of drivers caught tailgating last financial year.
According to RAA road safety expert Charles Mountain, the best things to do if you’re being tailgated by another driver is stay calm and let them pass.
‘Often, the natural instinct is to slow down and block the tailgater in, as a way of punishing them. But you’re only putting yourself in harm’s way and it’s not worth the risk,’ he says.
‘The tailgater might be legally responsible if they cause a crash, but that won’t stop you from being injured. It’s frustrating, but just let them go around you. If possible, you can try and remember their number plate and report them to police later.’
Mr Mountain adds some drivers might not even be aware that they’re tailgating.
‘There are drivers that intentionally tailgate aggressively, and then there are others that don’t know they’re making a mistake because they don’t realise how much of a gap they actually need to leave,’ he says.
Legally, you must keep enough distance between you and the car in front so that you can stop safely to avoid a crash. To figure out what’s classed as a safe distance, Mr Mountain says to use the three-second rule.
‘Simply pick a fixed object, such as a road sign, and count the time between when you and the car in front pass this object – it should be at least three full seconds (one, one thousand; two, one thousand etc.)’
‘When you first try this, you’ll probably be quite surprised at how much distance you should be leaving.’