Tailgating is more than just annoying, it’s downright dangerous.

And, in Victoria, the RACV has called out motorists to be aware of how close they’re
driving to the vehicle in front of them, after a jump in the number of infringements in the
last five years.

Tailgating, or ‘failing to drive a sufficient distance behind a vehicle,’ can see offenders
fined and receive demerit points for doing the wrong thing.

In Victoria, that fine is $248 and one demerit point.

A total of 2108 infringements for this dangerous practice were given to drivers in Victoria in
2022, up five per cent from 2001 infringements in 2021.

RACV’s Sam Lynch pointed to the aggressive and intimidating nature of tailgate driving,
and what motorists should do when they encounter it.

“Being tailgated can be intimidating and can divert the concentration of a motorist,
resulting in collisions or leading to unsafe driving speeds,” he said.

“While some drivers may be tempted to box the tailgater in and even tap on your brakes to
send a message, it’s simply never worth the risk to put yourself in harm’s way.

“RACV recommends that if you’re being tailgated or you’re uncomfortable with the
proximity of the vehicle behind you, stay calm, maintain a safe speed, prioritise safety,
focus on the road ahead and move over or let them pass when it’s safe to do so.”

Mr Lynch said motorists need to consider the safety risks around tailgating, with most
underestimating the distance needed to stop their vehicles.

“Keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you isn’t just a safe driving technique,
it’s required by law, although a “sufficient distance” can change depending on the road
conditions and circumstance, it is recommended to keep at least a two-second gap
between your vehicle and the vehicle in front,” he said.

“To calculate the two-second gap, pick a fixed object on the side of the road and as the
vehicle in front of you passes it, start counting. If the front of your car reaches that object
before you get to two, you’re travelling too close. Slow down and increase the distance
between the vehicles.

“If you’re driving in low visibility conditions, if it’s wet or foggy, at night, if you’re tired,
towing a caravan or driving a heavy vehicle, that gap should be extended to at least four

“The bigger the gap between the two vehicles, the more time you have to brake or react to
avoid a serious collision.”

Mr Lynch also said that 41 per cent of RACV motor collision claims were due to rear-end
collisions, which could be due to a variety of reasons including tailgating, the front driver
not breaking in time or the rear driver accidentally pressing on the accelerator.

“In addition to the obvious safety reasons, motorists should also remember that in the
event of a collision, it is often the motorist who runs into the back of another vehicle that is
at fault from an insurance perspective,” he said.

“The at fault driver may be required to pay the excess on the policy, which will depend on
what the policyholder has chosen.”

About Chris Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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