More than half of drivers (53%) are risking deadly pile-ups on motorways by driving too close to the vehicle in front, according to research by Brake and Direct Line.
Brake warns that most drivers’ failure to always keep a safe distance adds to the case against raising the motorway speed limit, currently being considered by government. At 80mph, stopping distances are 27% greater than at 70mph (122m on average compared to 96m at 70mph), meaning drivers are less able to stop in time in an emergency and avoid devastating crashes.
Brake is calling on the government to scrap plans for 80mph limits, predicted to lead to 25 more deaths and 100 serious injuries every year, increase carbon emissions and costs to drivers.
Brake and Direct Line’s survey of 942 drivers found that:
- More than half (53%) admit breaking the two-second rule on motorways, compared to 49% in a similar Brake survey in 2004.
- Men are far more likely to risk lives by driving too close than women: 61% of male drivers admit breaking the two-second rule on motorways, compared to 46% of women drivers. Twice as many men (30%) admit doing this weekly or more compared to women (15%).
- Young drivers are slightly more likely to break the two second rule (56% compared to 53%), and are more likely to do this frequently. 30% of young drivers admitted to tailgating on motorways weekly or more, compared to 21% of older drivers.
In Great Britain in 2010, 263 people were killed and 1,445 seriously injured in road crashes on motorways and 70mph roads (most recent figures available).
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Drivers who don’t keep their distance increase the risk of pile-ups, which can and do result in multiple and violent deaths and injuries, and devastation for the families involved. We urge all drivers to realise the vital importance of the two second rule, and make a personal commitment to always stick to it. We are also appealing to the government to ditch proposals to raise the motorway limit – the fact most drivers aren’t keeping their distance only adds to the case against this inhumane policy. Various researchers have predicted an 80mph limit will mean more lives cut short and more horrific injuries, while arguments in favour simply don’t stand up to scrutiny.”
Andy Goldby, director of Motor Underwriting and Pricing for Direct Line Car Insurance, said: “Driving too close to the car in front of you is asking for trouble. Doing it at speed and you’re risking not only your own life but other road users’ lives too. Whilst the UK’s motorways have proportionately less crashes than other roads, crashes on these roads are more likely to be deadly because of the high speeds involved. We believe it is better to save lives than to save a few minutes of journey time.”