ABU DHABI // Eight people were killed and three seriously injured in 73 traffic accidents caused by tailgating in the first quarter of this year, authorities said.
Abu Dhabi Police and road safety experts are urging motorists, particularly young drivers, to pay attention to the road and to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
Tailgating was one of the main causes of traffic accidents between January and April, with 5,150 fines issued on Abu Dhabi roads.
“Not maintaining sufficient distance between vehicles increases the risk of rear-end collisions as motorists do not have sufficient time or distance to stop should the vehicle in front come to a sudden and unexpected halt,” said Col Ahmed Al Zuwaidi, the director of main roads at Abu Dhabi Police’s traffic and patrols directorate.
Dr Britta Lang, head of Transport Research Laboratory in the UAE, agreed, saying: “Unfortunately, close following is a frequent contributing factor in many collisions on UAE roads. It is particularly dangerous on high-speed roads where the collision severities are likely to be much higher.”
Col Al Zeyoudi warned against tailgating, sounding horns and flashing headlights to force vehicles ahead to give way, as such behaviour distracts other motorists and increases the risk of accidents.
“Tailgating can be an act of intimidation to get slower drivers in front to give way,” said Dr Lang, a psychologist.
“It might be that drivers are concerned that someone will cut in front of them if they leave a sufficiently large gap. In either case, the driver who tailgates puts himself and the other drivers at risk.”
Roshanara Sait, director of Ciel Marketing and Events, which organises road safety campaigns, said drivers tend to overestimate their driving skills, become negligent and unaware of the dangers of tailgating.
“At 40kph, the stopping distance required is 15 metres, as the speed doubles the distance quadruples,” she said. “A driver should maintain a three-second gap behind any vehicle in front. This rule helps to reduce the risk of collision and the severity of the collision.”
Thomas Edelmann, founder of Road Safety UAE, said tailgating has remained the number three killer on UAE roads, after sudden lane change and speeding, for many years.
“It’s a pity that UAE motorists don’t get it,” he said. “It’s so simple: just leave enough distance to the vehicle in front.”
Police have stepped up traffic control on roads to catch and fine violators, Col Al Zeyoudi said.
From July 1, drivers will be fined Dh400 and receive four black points on their licence for tailgating, under the new federal rules.