TTR and TRL get funding for pilot scheme to reduce the problem of ‘tailgating’

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Tailgating, or close-following, is a widespread concern on UK roads, as it makes drivers feel intimidated, aggravates congestion, and is a contributory factor in 7% of collisions according to Department for Transport (DfT) statistics. A road safety charity is now funding a project to help reduce tailgating by business drivers.

Transport & Travel Research (TTR) and its parent company, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), have secured funding for a pilot scheme to reduce tailgating from the Road Safety Trust, a charity that funds research to support its objective of reducing road casualties. The project will focus on business drivers because on average they undertake high annual driving mileages and are involved in a quarter of road traffic collisions. According to the road safety charity Brake, 44% of drivers are concerned about close-following most times that they drive on motorways; however, nearly 60% of drivers admit to leaving less than the recommended two-second gap between themselves and the vehicle in front.

TTR, which conducts independent policy research into sustainable transport across all modes that cover the movement of people and goods, is now seeking interest from potential local authority partners that would act as a host for the pilot project in their area. Practical interventions may focus on education, engineering, or enforcement approaches, or a combination of all these methods. The TTR and TRL team is looking for local authority partners to help recruit employers within the pilot area and develop a package of behavior change techniques to measure and influence attitudes toward close-following.

The Road Safety Trust is a newly established registered charity, which has the main objective of supporting road safety research or practical interventions that are intended to reduce the numbers of people killed or injured on the country’s roads. The charity is governed by nine trustees and chaired by Suzette Davenport, Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary and the national lead for roads policing. The trustees come from a range of backgrounds, including the private sector, civil service, higher education, politics and crime reduction. The members of the Trust are the 43 police forces of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Robert Gifford, chief executive of the Road Safety Trust, said, “This project tackles two important issues: close-following, which is of concern to many road users; and driving for work, which poses increased risk to all drivers. I hope that the Trust’s support will help to develop a useful tool for employers, as they take their role in managing this issue seriously.”

Marcus Jones, senior expert on sustainable mobility at TTR, added, “The project provides an excellent opportunity for road safety departments to not only help tackle tailgating on their road networks, but develop new tools they can use in the future.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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