RESEARCH - Tailgating
In 2008, the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide, Australia, released a report that explored the role of tailgating in rear end crashes. It surprised me to learn that driver inattention was a bigger risk than following too closely.
I also learned that because of the possibility of a disturbance in flow being amplified as it passes from one vehicle to another, drivers bear a collective responsibility to vehicles behind them to try to dampen rather than amplify disturbances.
Potential measures to counter tailgating were discussed: advisory signs, markings on the road surface, enforcement by the police, a futuristic proposal for enforcement by the public, and improvements to the vehicle. There is reason to think that each of these would meet with some success.
Fast forward to 2022 and it is now common to have vehicles that do some of the thinking for us. Automatic Emergency Braking is a safety feature that prompts a driver who is not paying attention that they are too close to the vehicle in front of them.
While this is a good thing, scientists are evaluating how accurate forward collision warning systems are. because the base rate of collisions is low, sensitive FCW systems can provide a high rate of alarms in situations with no or low probability of collision, which may negatively impact driver responsiveness and satisfaction.