Tailgating does not result in a high proportion of death and serious injury in Australia and New Zealand, however a recent study found being tailgated is one of the most stressful driving experiences (Ochenasek Et. Al.).
There have been several concerted efforts to reduce tailgating over the years, much of which has focused on the ability to enforce against the behaviour (enforcement cameras, detectors etc.). There is merit to this approach as the recent Queensland study also showed that drivers currently believe there is a low chance of being caught for tailgating, but suggests that legal sanctions can be improved by increasing drivers’ perceptions that they will be caught for tailgating. Also, a Rhode Island study showed that most classified tailgaters did not know the proper headway (Song and Wang 2010).
One approach that has been trialled around the world are road markings to highlight the correct distance to leave. An added benefit to these road markings is a clear and unambiguous method for enforcement.
References: Song, M and Wang J, Studying the Tailgating Issues and Exploring Potential Treatment. Journal of the Transportation Research Forum, Vol. 49, No. 3, 2010
Ochenasek, M., Truelove, V., Stefanidis, K. B., & Watson-Brown, N. Examining the impact of both legal and nonlegal factors on following a vehicle too closely utilizing three deterrence-based theories. Journal of Criminology, 55(1), 2022