Thousands of drivers caught out by new roadside cameras risking £100 fines

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Six-month trials on a 150m stretch of the M1 through Northamptonshire are already underway. A total of 26,000 tailgate offenders identified between early October and the first week of December.

Northamptonshire Police said almost 10,000 drivers were caught tailgating in the first two weeks that the cameras were installed.

The new cameras will detect whether drivers are keeping a minimum of a two-second gap between traffic before issuing penalties to offenders.

Highways England said it was sending out warning letters to drivers informing them they had been caught tailgating.

But the law states drivers can be fined up to £100 for tailgating and issued three penalty points.

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Jeremy Philips, Head of Road Safety at Highways England said the new cameras had been installed to “encourage better driving” on the roads.

He said: “These new cameras have, sadly, highlighted just how many people are driving too close on our roads.

“We understand that most tailgating is unintentional by drivers who are simply unaware they are dangerously invading someone else’s space.

“But not leaving enough space between you and the vehicle in front can be very frightening and intimidating – it could also prove fatal.

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“We are trialling the new cameras to make drivers aware of their behaviour and encourage better driving.

“We are also using the Space Invader video game character as a quick reminder to drivers of the risks of tailgating. Our message is simple – Don’t be a Space Invader, stay safe, stay back.”

Tailgating can be a serious safety issue for road users with accidents caused by the offence at their highest level for seven years.

In total, 28 fatal accidents and 599 serious road crashes were recorded last year where driving too closely was considered a “contributory factor” to the collision.

Caroline Layton, a data and intelligence analyst for Highways England has first-hand experience of suffering at the hands at tailgaters.

She feared her body would be “crushed” as a lorry drove near to her through a section of motorway roadworks.

She said: “He came up really close, just a couple of metres behind. I thought I had to slow down because if it hit me at 50mph I would be crushed.

“This was very intimidating behaviour and likely to cause a crash and serious injury. If anyone had stopped in front of me he would have gone into the back of my car and I would have been sandwiched in the middle.

“From the driver’s seat, all I could see in my rear-view mirror was the lorry’s grill.”

A Highways England survey found just a quarter of drivers have admitted to tailgating other road users while on the roads.

However, almost nine out of 10 people say they have been the victim of tailgating or witnessed someone suffering.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “When people think of the causes of road accidents, tailgating probably isn’t one of them, but it’s one that can have dangerous repercussions.

“Highways England’s innovative plans are already showing how serious and reckless this behaviour is, and through this campaign I hope we see tailgating drop, making our roads, already some of the safest in the world, safer still.”

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