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A stretch of the M1 motorway near Leeds has topped a table of the highways that have the incidents of motorists committing tailgate offences. Highways Agency data has listed the roads where drivers leave the smallest gap between themselves and the car in front. New tailgating spot fines were introduced recently, at the same time as middle lane hogging spot fines were also introduced. Analysis shows that the M42 features four times in the top 10 worst offending roads, that 49% of all cars are too close, and that this figure rises to approximately 80% at speeds between 60mph and 69mph.

It is advised that drivers leave a two second gap between themselves and the car in front. This ensures that, even in difficult driving conditions and if an emergency braking situation occurs, all cars should have ample time to be able to stop their cars without hitting the car in front.

The data was collected using induction loops that essentially measure the number of vehicles that pass over them, and can measure the distance and time between vehicles as they pass the loop. The data was collected over a period of 18 days in March, and then put together and analysed by the Transport Research Laboratory to determine the number of cars that tailgate, which is considered dangerous.

49% of all the vehicles registered were found to have left less than the recommended two second gap, while 17% of cars left less than a one second gap, giving the drivers very little time to react to braking in front or to an emergency situation. Higher speeds, between 60mph and 69mph, actually saw the figure rise to around 80%, so 4 in 5 drivers at that speed do not leave enough of a gap.

The M1 at Leeds was the worst spot recorded, followed by the M42 in Solihull, the M1 at Brent Cross, and the A1M in North Yorkshire. Although the M1 featured highly, it was the M42 which took the dubious honour of featuring the most times, with four stretches of the busy motorway within the top 10 table.