Don’t Be a Space Invader, Says Anti-Tailgating Campaign

Highways England & former ‘Stig’ Ben Collins join forces for a safety campaign that strives to eliminate tailgating

Tailgating causes countless collisions

The Don’t Be A Space Invader campaign claims one in eight road casualties are caused by dangerous, reckless, motorists that tailgate traffic ahead – so “stay safe and stay back”. Highways England – the organisation that runs the campaign - adds that nine out of ten motorists have been tailgated or seen others so impeded.

Motorists that tailgate risk causing a collision that kills, injures, and physiologically cripples themselves and anyone in close proximity caught in the mayhem. Why? Because driving too close ensures there is not enough time to see the traffic ahead slowing, react and pull back. Sensible drivers have no such issues.

It is for these reasons that mature, responsible, drivers say tailgating is “the biggest single bugbear” on the road, Highways England confirms. Furthermore, even if there is no collision such actions cause distress. Research, therefore, involving dashcams, facial recognition, emotion tracking and heart rate monitors suggests that a typical reaction is “surprise, anger and contempt”.

Safety film

Highways England emphasises such points via a short film that is based on Space Invaders; the classic arcade game. It opens with a motorist in the outside lane of a dual carriageway. A space invader then appears, moves closer and closer and the driver gets increasingly tense. “Don’t be a space invader”, the film concludes.

Professional racing driver and Hollywood stunt expert supports campaign

Ben, best known for his role on TV show TopGear as the ‘tame’ racing driver in the white suit is also a championship winning Le Mans racing driver. Ben supports the Don’t Be A Space Invader campaign. He emphasises: “I discovered the dangers of tailgating at a very early age - in an overly enthusiastic game of musical chairs. The music stopped. So did the kid in front of me. But I didn’t. I face-planted the back of his head instead.

Following the vehicle in front too closely reduces your vision to zero, along with your time to react to danger. Stay safe, stay back and look ahead."

Danger of death

Richard Leonard, Highways England Head of Road Safety, adds: “if you get too close to the car in front, you won’t be able to react and stop in time if they brake suddenly.” Tailgating also makes the motorist ahead feel “targeted” and “victimised”, he says. Such things increase the probability of a collision, deaths and serious injury.

Clearly, the purpose of the safety campaign is to reduce such incidents. “We want everybody to travel safely”, Mr Leonard affirms. The advice is therefore simple: “stay safe and stay back”.


Tailgating that I have experienced has been carried out by suited and booted business men. i. e. Company reps, managers going from A to B and young drivers, male and female, who think the driver in front will move for them. If they can't move, the tailgater gets aggressive and starts flashing headlights. Having experience this several times, I have found the best instant warning that they are too close, is to put my hazard lights on. It makes them back off, but only for a short while. Then they start again. Only more aggressive than before. Then I just sit there until I can get out of their way. They're not going to smash their own car are they. That is until I have to brake. Then the panic shows in their face.

Of course tailgating is very poor driving but equally poor is the driver sitting in a queue of traffic a mile long in the outside lane passing slower traffic at a rate of perhaps 2mph. If you see a car approaching from behind and it is safe to do so, move over and allow them past. Frustration is a major cause of accidents. The above account is pure passive aggressive in nature and not big, not clever.

Not sure Nigel Mansell is the best fellow to suggest anything - as he has the same tendency to break everything he touches as my daughter and a couple of other friends...

Of course SteveH, you haven't read my original posting. The one where I mention there not being any room to move over. Moreover, tailgating usually takes place in the outside (fast lane) of a motorway, where drivers who are in such a hurry, simply clog up that lane and brings it to a stand still. How many times have you seen the fast lane come to a stop and the other two lanes have continued to move, albeit at a slower pace. Unless you are behind my steering wheel, you have no idea what is happening in front of me. I'm driving my car. Not you. Aggression is not passive. Aggression is volatile. Passive is peaceful. And sedated. And non aggressive.

Driving extensively around England, it has been my experience that the worst culprits for tailgating are HGV drivers. As the single most dangerous act on the road, such tailgaters should be prosecuted and have their licences revoked. Hopefully that will set an example.

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Tailgating is extremely dangerous, but vehicles pulling infront of you after overtaking reducing my safe distance is just as annoying and dangerous, and should be treated as dangerous driving.

Tailgating this lunchtime - car in lane 3 of motorway, doing 50mph, limit 70 mph, causing tailgating / bunching till drivers could get into lane to to undertake. Driver was totally oblivious to what they were doing & made no attempt to move to lane 2 or even 1. Went on for miles.

Quite true SteveH. How often are you in Lane 3 with no traffic behind you for a considerable distance, coming up behind a slower vehicle in Lane 2 who in turn is gaining on a vehicle in his own lane. He will not use his mirrors to see there is no traffic behind the car in Lane 3 and just pause for a second or two to let you by. All he wants do to is get ahead of the car in front so he will signal and pull in front of you regardless of the difference in speed. Whatever happened to the advice in the Highway Code about not making a manoeuvre which would cause another vehicle to alter its speed or course?

M worst was in lane 2 when a Ferrari couldn't push lane 3 out of the way decided to flash etc at my Micra which was in a busy lane. Ignored him, but as I came off, so did he and realised I would still be ahead. Clearly his manhood was at risk so he went off the road straddling the roadside to undertake me. Left part of his exhaust behind.

I am not a "slow" driver and still have the skills to overtake on single carriage "A" roads, so if I'm being tailgated It is because the person behind is an impatient moron, I use all three of the lanes on the motorway correctly so will pull in when I deem it safe and appropriate, I will however slow down and increase the distance to the vehicle in front if (these days it's when) I get tailgated as instructed by the Highway code! I would like to add that the opposite of tailgating is reciprocated by most drivers!

Both lane hogging and tailgating are traffic offences 3 points + £100 fine. Best way to deal with a tailgater is to slow down until he / she comes past

I’m a hgv driver & on single carriageway A roads I’m only allowed to drive at a maximum speed of 50mph, the amount of car drivers that get so close to me so I can’t see them in my mirrors is a nightmare , they obviously can’t see ahead of me yet suddenly pull out to overtake , without signalling, often when there’s oncoming traffic, driving standards are diabolical ..

Don’t tar all hgv drivers with the same brush , I always do my best to leave a 2 second gap yet other drivers see that gap as a space to be filled .

You need a lot more than 2 seconds if you're driving an HGV

I'm a white van man (also limited to 50 mph) and only have the benefit of wing mirrors to see behind me. Tailgating happens to me too. On sunny days I can sometimes see the impatient idiot's shadow in my mirror. On a cloudy day this is impossible. The only consolation is that I can't see them flashing, or at night putting the main beam on. Fools, they'll probably smash their vehicle or themselves up in an accident, although I don't want to be wearing a neckbrace for ever if I come off "best".

Of course , you’re right but in practice it’s never that , you’ve probably seen the painted chevrons on some sections of motorway & the accompanying sign saying keep two chevrons apart ? In my experience car drivers , and unfortunately some truck drivers , completely ignore it. I get ridiculed at work because I take longer to get to a destination than other drivers because i drive to arrive , the more I hang back , the more other drivers slot into my braking distance .

Actually lawfully, the best course of a room is, when safe, move over And let them proceed. Far to many dicks out there who stick at 65-70 in the right hand lane even when it's safe to allow faster traffic past. It isn't clever nor smart but simply dangerous by causing frustration. OK, we can easily say the faster car should be holding to the limit. Not our shout to hold them to that though is it?

Until the outer lane hoggers are stopped by using the law that they are breaking, then tailgating is never going to be voluntary stopped. The police should be more active against the lane hogger, start issuing fines without discussion to those fools, they will soon learn, then start a campaign on tail-gaiters by issuing fines without argument. The same has to be applied to under-takers who are probably the most dangerous of the lot. I am sure there are enough cameras around to start issuing fines from camera evidence. The fines coffers would more than pay the labour spent on camera footage study!!!

Strangely enough tailgating rarely happens to me. If I see someone in a hurry I don't police them with speed controlling I just let them go. I get out of the way unless I can't obviously. I see very often on motorways drivers being lazy to pull in coz they're probably want to overtake in next few minutes. I always pull in safely And then get out again when I need it unless there is no one behind me that wants to go faster no matter if they doing 70 or 80 or even more. I love driving I don't have to keep the steering straight all the time and not look in my mirrors. Respect others and you'll get the same back. (apart from exceptions that goes with every rule). In town most times I find that doing 30 is slow enough but we obide. What about drivers that can't pass 20?? They get tailgating often as well, it's not only on motorways. Sometimes I feel like running and tell them that its safe to do 30... (I don't mean in the middle town nor in the middle of a lot of traffic etc.) Rarely but it happens, I find an oportunity to overtake safely. I get fingers rooting lights and the lot. What we need its better teaching; including motorway teaching after the instructor feels that the learner is safe enough to do it.

If you let them pass and carry on no one gets stressed. Of course of you cant you can't they won't bother you for sure I think the problem often is that drivers carry on ignoring others; if they want to go faster let them. In the end if they going too fast they'll end up paying for way or the other.(I did that when I was younger so I know) Anyway that's only my opinion

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From my own experience, a big contribution to this issue, are drivers who will not accelerate and get their car moving safely towards the speed limit for the road they're on - or decide that they're going to just do 40mph everywhere they go, irrespective of the limit for the piece of road they're driving on. So - we move to a 50mph or national speed limit section of road, the car in front is bumbling along slowly towards 40 mph..(Daylight, dry road); I get closer, anticipating a speed increase from the driver (observing that there are no vehicles or hazards, junctions etc for them to consider). I'm seen getting closer, so the driver decides to slow down, to get me to slow down; except, they're actually reducing the distance between our vehicles - which is percieved by the driver, who is now more concerned with me than anything in front of them; to think I have sped up! 35 mph and slowing - Then I'm brake tested - Further reducing the distance even more.. I brake, and breathe - not reacting.. The driver in front is now watching me like a hawk - and not interested in getting on their way at all.. Waiting for a response they watch their rear-view mirror like a TV...I have now become a hazard to any vehicles behind me, having been forced to brake suddenly... At this point I usually give a thumbs up and gesture for them to get moving forwards - and then I follow along and I'm often brake tested a second time!! This is about personal space as much as road safety.. Because, this is HUGELY dangerous and I'm not being 'taught any lessons' at all! Just that you think you have the right to police my speed. Plus a disregard of any lane-discipline exacerbates this problem. Why do so few drivers use Lane 1 of the motorway!? It's NOT the slow lane! In my opinion, if you brake test - you deserve to be hit. Pay more attention to what's in front of you and have more respect of speed limits and lane-discipline.