Fleet News

Motorway tailgating hotspots revealed

A new study has revealed the nation’s worst motorways for dangerous tailgating, with the M1 near Leeds revealed as the country’s tailgating hotspot. 

Sections of the M42 near Solihull (West Midlands) and M1 near Brent Cross complete the top three sections of motorway with the highest number of vehicles tailgating, reveals the study commissioned by Direct Line.

Analysis of traffic flow data from nearly 6,500 sites on the Highways Agency motorway network shows that nearly half (49%) of all vehicles were found to allow less than the recommended two-second gap from the car in front.

The study found 17% of vehicles were travelling with less than one second apart.

Vehicle flow data suggests that for vehicles travelling at speeds of 60-69 mph, 78% of cars had gaps that were less than their calculated stopping distances (73-94m), and 54% had gaps less than half the calculated stopping distances.

Drivers on the M42 most regularly ignore the Highway Code’s two-second safe gap between vehicles, with four sections of the motorway between Solihull and the NEC, Birmingham, included in the national top 10 motorway tailgating hotspots.

Tailgating hotspots in England:



Nearest town


M1 at A1M to J47 southbound



M42 J6-7 northbound



M1 within J1 northbound

Brent Cross


A1M J51-50 southbound

Leeming, N. Yorkshire


M27 J7-5 westbound



M42 J6-5 southbound



M42 J4-3A southbound

Solihull / Redditch


M42 J7-6 southbound

NEC Birmingham


A627M between start & J1 northbound

Oldham / Rochdale


M11 within J9 northbound

Bishops Stortford / Cambridge

Source: TRL, Highways Agency MIDAS data
Police reports indicate that over 1,700 injuries (up to 15% of all injury collisions) on Highways Agency roads are caused by close following, including around five fatalities a year. Young drivers are the most likely to be involved in tailgating accidents, with around 37% of these crashes caused by under 30s.

The cost of these accidents is estimated to be between £79 and £129 million per year, with a further national cost of between £4.2 and £12.6 million due to the congestion caused by tailgating collisions.

Behavioural analysis of why people tailgate concluded that there are two underlying causes; driver error in assessing speeds and gaps in the traffic; and drivers actively trying to close the distance with the vehicle ahead on purpose, and sometimes aggressively.

Rob Miles, director of car insurance at Direct Line, said: “All drivers have a responsibility to keep a safe distance between their vehicle and others on the road.

“Tailgating is extremely dangerous and also against the law, regardless of whether it’s done intentionally or in ignorance.

“Often people can find themselves too close to other vehicles on motorways as they rush to their destination or try to keep up with traffic flow.

“We’d urge drivers to keep their stopping distances in mind, as these are often forgotten in times of haste or frustration.

“Drivers should aim to always have at least a two-second gap – over 60 metres - between themselves and the car in front to keep safe on the motorway and avoid facing the on-the-spot fines for tailgating that were introduced last year.”


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