More than half of drivers are risking deadly pile-ups on motorways by driving too close to the vehicle in front, according to research by Brake and Direct Line.
More drivers are taking this deadly risk compared to seven years ago and men are far more likely to do it than women, with a horrifying three in ten male drivers doing so at least weekly.
Brake warns that most drivers’ failure to always keep a safe distance adds to the case against raising the motorway speed limit, currently being considered by government.
At 80mph, stopping distances are 27 per cent greater than at 70mph, meaning drivers are less able to stop in time in an emergency and avoid devastating crashes.
Brake is calling on the government to scrap plans for 80mph limits, predicted to lead to 25 more deaths and 100 serious injuries every year, increase carbon emissions and costs to drivers .
The survey of 942 drivers found that:
> More than half (53%) admit breaking the two-second rule on motorways, compared to 49% in a similar Brake survey in 2004.
> Men are far more likely to risk lives by driving too close than women: 61% of male drivers admit breaking the two-second rule on motorways, compared to 46% of women drivers. Twice as many men (30%) admit doing this weekly or more compared to women (15%).
> Young drivers are slightly more likely to break the two second rule (56% compared to 53%), and are more likely to do this frequently. 30% of young drivers admitted to tailgating on motorways weekly or more, compared to 21% of older drivers.
In Great Britain in 2010, 263 people were killed and 1,445 seriously injured in road crashes on motorways and 70mph roads.
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Drivers who don’t keep their distance increase the risk of pile-ups, which can and do result in multiple and violent deaths and injuries, and devastation for the families involved.
“We urge all drivers to realise the vital importance of the two second rule, and make a personal commitment to always stick to it.
“We are also appealing to the government to ditch proposals to raise the motorway limit – the fact most drivers aren’t keeping their distance only adds to the case against this inhumane policy.
“Various researchers have predicted an 80mph limit will mean more lives cut short and more horrific injuries, while arguments in favour simply don’t stand up to scrutiny.”