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Keep your distance! Tailgating ranked as the biggest cause of driver distraction

Posted on 08/03/22 |

Being followed too closely by other drivers is the behaviour that distracts motorists most on Britain’s roads, latest research reveals. 

A survey commissioned by IAM RoadSmart, asked 1,000 motorists to rank a series of occurrences on how distracting they are, with one in three (30 per cent) of the drivers surveyed deeming tailgating to be the most distracting factor.

The research comes in the wake of figures from National Highways revealing that tailgating is a factor in 1 in 8 crashes on their road network.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, commented: “The sight of a fellow driver in your rear-view mirror following too closely can be very disconcerting, and our survey shows it is the leading cause of driver distraction on Britain’s roads.

“However, it is clear that tailgating is not just a minor inconvenience, with figures from Highways England revealing that far too many people are being left scared, angry and frustrated by the aggressive and reckless behaviour of tailgaters.

“It is worth remembering that you will cover 62 metres every two seconds when travelling at 70 miles per hour, meaning you need around 96 metres to stop, making adequate stopping distances absolutely critical to curtail the tailgating problem.”

Tailgating was closely followed by children or other passengers as the second most distracting occurrence, with one in four (26 per cent) agreeing that having others in the car can affect their ability to focus on their driving.

The survey also revealed that traffic is also a significant source of distraction for motorists, with one in five (21 per cent) rating this as a factor that disconcerts them.

Neil concluded: “Whether it be from reckless behaviour from another road user, or even a screaming child, distractions while driving can come in many different forms. Drivers should always take control and do all they can to mitigate for them. This way, together we can all ensure Britain’s roads are as safe as they can possibly be.”


What’s the biggest distraction while driving?


Respondents who ranked as biggest distraction *



Children / other passengers




Road works







* Percentages are rounded to the nearest decimal