Why this research is the first in Australia?

more drivers tailgate less drivers keep the distance

In a quest to improve the safety on the roads I’ve asked all the relevant officers for real life assessment of the problems. The ministers, police nor any relevant authorities  talked from position of power, expertise and authority but they did not have any real data regarding the facts, real figures on tailgating and other wrong behaviour on the road. It is inconceivable that police force with long “experience” or exposure to the road, have no idea of the situation, the researchers do not have data, ministers and Attorney General have no real data so they cannot make rational realistic rules and regulations. But this is a fact in South Australia.

My aim was not to do better than Adelaide or Monash University but to find if it is so difficult to find out the basic facts. It happen to be an extremely easy and than I hoped that this was an overlooked data, but found that university of Adelaide and Australasian College for Road Safety and Monash University and any ther organisation allegedly “responsible” for road safety management and research are actually not interested in a research nor in fact finding despite of them consuming large amounts of taxpayers money. They are interested not to improve road safety. So I did and try to promote the information, method and idea to improve road safety.

It gives some real data, useful in decision making, but mainly I intend it to encourage other researchers to take up my simple and cheap method and continue the research. Sadly, no government agency, nor two universities nor college dedicated to road safety, were willing to cooperate or publish this finding, so I do on international forum. The method is very simple and cheap so even school children can undertake it and do some projects, contributing to more data and potential for decision makers to make rational decisions improving safety and possibly traffic flow. Though the method is accurate enough, some more improvements are also welcomed. Method. Any video camera even the one in digital photo camera will be sufficient. It is better however that camera have good lenses and is relatively good quality. In the later case it is better to set on 640 X 480 than lower quality. Camera must be on tripod to avoid shaking. It should be placed at considerable distance from the road to reduce the optical/geometrical distortions. For the purpose of tailgating it can be placed in line or perpendicular to traffic flow. In some cases I was positioned on a natural raise near a road curve and with good lenses I zoomed to appropriate picture size so minimum 3 cars be seen on each picture. The more samples the more accurate and credible the result is. In practice more than 15 minutes or more than 50 cars start to become significant but surely several hundreds of cars filmed produce more accurate results. Than on computer with good monitor, using any even free video editor analyze the traffic each lane separately. The editor have digital readout in seconds and fractions of a second on the action edited. You manually move forward car by car over a fixed point on the road. It may be a poll, road sign or a shadow of a horizontal object. You obtain the distance between two observed cars directly in seconds. Note them on spread sheet like Microsoft Excel or free program Open Office spread sheet. The rest is the summing and taking conclusions.

It makes a perfect sense to film and analyze traffic on a given stretch of the road in many driving situations. At night, during morning going to work rush, at lunch time, coming home rush, weekend days and specific like sport events and so on. This should be done on freeways, and in metro area. In and near the city and in certain intervals from the city like every 5km from city centre.

Ideal position will be to film from high raised building seeing all cars from above. For the purpose of just tailgating the is not important the actual speed of cars because tailgating is defined as distance in seconds at any given speed. More advanced study would be much more useful if the actual speed is noted for each car along with following distance. This can be achieved by comparing the known distance on the filmed part of road.

As a pioneer in tailgating research I have to invent methods and way to describe as well as set the relevant parameters.

For this and previous studies I only record the cars which follow another car within 4s driving distance at a given speed or less. All larger distances are disregarded for this study and treated as such cars are unrelated to one another and are just present on the road. Simple rationale is behind this. As 2s is adopted in South Australia recommended following distance or greater and same figure is most common around the world. Therefore twice that distance that is 4s is a cut off point. Most drivers and what is most important for this study, drive at less than 2s and this is where the danger lies.

Tailgating private research report conducted January 2009

Actual photos are included on page on tailgating.

First test at Lonsdale on a road with speed limit 100 km/h

total 139 cars were tested (100%)

77 cars kept less than 2s distance what is 55.4%

19 cars kept less than 0.25s distance what is 13.67%

shortest noted following distance recorded 0.1s

The fastest lane near the median strip clocked 77.14% of cars kept less than 2s distance.

The pattern that the more the road centre the faster and smaller the distances between cars are, is well visible.

North East Rd 60km/h zone       12/01/09   08:30:00

total 65 cars tested (100%)

below 2s distance 45 cars what is 69.23%

For practical reasons, on 3 lane North East road only 2 lanes were observed and nearest to the centre which is the fastest was not recorded. It is clear that near edge, lane is slower and less tailgating occur.

This Port Rd section was analyzed only partially due to difficulties to access suitable position. It is clear however that in all cases the proportion of tailgating drivers is always more than 50% of all drivers.

Always more than 50% of drivers tailgate in reasonable traffic density.

The heavier traffic density, the more percentage of tailgating and by no mean the recorded 77% is not the highest (estimated 99% in heavy traffic)

There is an alarming rate of “idiot” drivers breaking 0.25s and even 0.1s distance

When police does not punish tailgating and even claim (senior police officers) that 200mm distance on freeway is ok, no wonder that Adelaide is plagued by tailgaters. Police cars do tailgate and cut in front on top of speeding routinely, this gives a bad example to other drivers.

Police also refuse to honour the rule of 2s following distance. If authorities disobey their rules, no wander that tailgaters do what they want.

Police refuse to take reports of tailgating and related road offenses.

Tailgating is very dangerous for cars, and is fatal for cyclists. The tailgating driver have no chance to stop to avoid collision with cyclist.

Personal opinion

From my observation the most represented group of tailgaters are young and middle aged ladies. They tend to tailgate very persistently for a longer stretch, and use the body language to try to intimidate and to force the driver in front to increase the speed, despite driving already almost at speed limit. Those drivers tend to have a fixed mind – this is my lane and go away I want to drive faster.

Male drivers when tailgate, some eventually overtake changing lane, and those who are of low IQ and/or have bad temper, do overtake, cut in front, and often suddenly stop in front just to “teach” the driver who disobey their push for speed. Perhaps those drivers come slightly closer than ladies but they also are more willing to change lane rather than be persistent indefinitely.

Tailgating is almost always related to driver desire to speed. Many tailgators always tailgate and when they overtake one driver, they speed to catch up with another and tailgate and so on. They have only two obstacles, one is typical camera spot and second they know well the intersections with camera and there they automatically slow down and then speed up immediately after.

It seems that specialists and road safety officials do have other than safety interests which do not allow them to implement safety measures nor find solutions to improve safety.

I was unable to detect any responsibility on any level of so called road management, in improving safety, in getting any interest in the subject.

Balance is needed. Police to give a good example of safe driving. Proper driver training. Fining severely dangerous drivers but also some tolerance, that is first time warning and explanation and then fining.

Tailgating is not just an annoyance. It is very serious safety problem. My overall observation indicate that tailgators are also speeding drivers, they are bullying and intimidating drivers, they are often aggressive drivers. They usually have very fixed mind, they in fact switch off their rational and fully conscious mind and drive as I call it on “autopilot”. The only thing they concentrate is the red light of the car in front. They cannot consciously see that lane on either side is free for some time and invite to change. They only do it when you behind tailgater or on free lane come to pass them. Their peripheral vision notice the movement (your car) and without rational and conscious thinking, they react to drive into the vacant spot in front of you, cutting in front and creating danger. This is a sign of unconscious driving, it is driving without due attention. Proper and long training is the best remedy. Even monkey can be trained, why not intelligent human?

Tailgating is always dangerous and in particularly to most vulnerable road users like children, pedestrians, cyclists and disable people on their vehicles.

Tailgating causes tailgaters to drive under a constant stress. Tailgating causes frequent stopping and acceleration which is annoying to those behind and is against clean environment. Tailgating is not contributing to a faster traffic flow but as experienced many times to slower traffic flow (miss so many opportunity of changing lane to free one) etc.

Tailgator sitting very close behind you makes you nervous and obstruct your view in rear mirror, so you cannot make correct assessment of the situation and eventually change lane. It is particularly dangerous on freeway speeds. You need really long distance view to see incoming traffic.

Tailgating has another very wrong effect on human. Imagine someone stand close to you say 10cm from your mouth and talk to you loud. You would not feel comfortable. I do  not. Criminals do that.

There is no justifiable excuse to tailgate. (There are cases when someone drive in front of you, or someone slows down but you are to correct and increase distance or change lane). One of the reason of driver driving slower than your desire, is that in South Australia we have very few street names and home numbers and government refuse to make them mandatory, so the driver knowing an address must drive slowly and try to find the destination. Another reason is that driver in front of you is undertrained or simply is very old and cannot drive any faster. The car may malfunction or any reason at all. Proper training surely will reduce number of such reasons but still they will exist and they are not an excuse to tailgate.

In SA there is an excellent rule not present in national rules that every driver has to indicate an intention to change lane or direction for more than 2s. This is perfectly matching the rule of tailgating (2s) and it allow others to accommodate to your manuover and also to react on any possible mistakes of yours. Unfortunately the Adelaide driving culture disallow for that rule to be fully implemented.  In SA that when you indicate for more than 2s before changing the lane, the drivers in most cases move forward preventing you to drive in front of them. The only way they can achieve this is when they drive very close to the car in front what is exactly tailgating.

Really all my experience shows that the actual road safety problem is a result of government mismanagement, the government corruption. One may try to justify why initially no office have any real life data, but when one makes and effort like myself, conduct a study, produce for the first time ever results and offer to the government and to relevant offices including Universities which supposed to do that long time ago and they ignore and even become hostile (Adelaide Uni staff including vice Chancellor), than the only conclusion can be drawn that it is great conspiracy to keep corruption perpetuating. The conclusion must be that they are interested in anything except the road safety. They did not take the data, the method, did not pointed any mistakes, they simply ignored. Anyone using a simple logic will ask the question: on what basis the politicians and other officials and “specialists” and advisers make decisions relating to the safe driving? They base their decision on thin air.

If no authority in Australia, no media become interested in this method and data, than someone in the world take it up.


For as long as there is no responsibility, no transparency, no communication with public, it is impossible to improve dramatically road safety in South Australia.

When researchers claim that there is no evidence that driver training improves safety, than we have what we do. When monkey can be trained to perform complex tasks, how researchers can claim without any evidence, that training is worthless? (Uni of Adelaide)

When professional researchers consuming lots of public money fail to deliver the results, (corruption) why school children and individuals cannot produce credible results and publish them? It is for our safety. While children do the research, make new observations, they also learn about the road problems and see what is right and what is wrong.

I encourage everyone to analyse the driving problems and devise the methods to establish the extent of the problem and submit to decision makers to make decisions to improve safety.

The act of tailgating is complex and usually involves number of problems the offending driver commits.

I strongly suggest that everybody press the government to acknowledge that tailgating is a very serious problem, and start to treat it as an offence rather than just courtesy issue. If police and government will not understand this and take it seriously, tailgating will grow and contribute to not only serious crashes but to untold road trauma. (a year after my initial report we see that the road fatalities and trauma raise dramatically)

About all multiple crashes or pileup, are caused by tailgating. Tailgating is extremely dangerous to cyclists.

Tailgating eliminate the safety margin. We all make mistake, tailgating does not allow to correct any mistake.

Tailgating is in it’s conception a planning to crash. The European idea of safe speed is: it is a speed which when applied, allow you to slow or stop to avoid crash. Causing crash is a prof of unsafe driving.

The 2s of following distance is not a product of a bad dream of any politician but was scientifically derived. This rule explains that it is only a reasonable measure which makes just possible to stop to avoid crash. It still does not fully incorporate the safety margin like something unexpected or distraction.

I appeal that everybody lobby governments to take tailgating seriously. This may allow us to cycle safely on the roads and drive safely and without so much avoidable trauma on our roads.

Evidence shows that most drivers tailgate. Is it drivers fault or authorities? Or are most people who drive dangerous (tailgating is dangerous)? Or perhaps authorities fail to ensure safety?

When untrained adequately driver obtain driving license, who will tell him/her that one cannot drive well? Having license and knowing that police will not stop and reprimand for tailgating, why driver should abandon such practice when almost all drivers (in South Australia at least) drive that way? When police tailgate? When they know nothing else?

Until government does it’s job properly, professionally, it is just government’s fault and not of individual drivers.

Road safety campaigner

Michal Kinasz  Adelaide 02/04/09


18 February 2010

Despite my continuous reports to our Premier, the death on the road raise and government is doing absolutely nothing to remedy it. I decided to continue with my tailgating study to show to the world how to do it and that it is a serious problem.

This study was conducted on 16/2/10 on Lower North East rd, Highbury for over 42min starting before 3pm. For practical reasons just one lane closer to the kerb was recorded and analyzed. This is a  slower of the two lanes.

The summary of the study is as follow:

total of 303 cars followed one another of which

202 cars tailgated what consist of 66.67% and

76 cars drove at less than 1s what is 37.62% and

43 cars drove at less than 0.2s that is one tenth of the prescribed 2s and it represent 56.58% of all tailgators.

While the total number or proportion of tailgators is very and unacceptably high, the rate of extreme tailgaltors, extremely dangerous drivers is also extremely high. That is that majority of tailgators are those most dangerous.  Such drivers give less than zero chances to any cyclist, motorcyclist or anyone on the road. The consequences are fatal and/or pileup crashes. Driving knowingly in such dangerous manner warrant them to be charged for planning a murder. If one think well on the official definition or description of tailgating which is 2s and realise that it does not give any guarantee of safe stopping to avoid crash, the half of that is fatal and one tenth is a criminal intent in my opinion. This is a plague and yet our Premier ignores that. Perhaps he should be charged for criminal intent.

My previous study showed that minimum rate of tailgators was about 55%, now we see not only confirmation of it but that the rate seems to be higher at over 66% and the spot was on Adelaide peripheries rather than near the city centre.



Glen Osmond Rd the beginning of freeway, distance approximately 500m from the intersection with Portrush Rd. the study represent about 12 minutes of real driving record. Heading away from city.

Lane closest to the road centre.

Total of 105 cars followed one another

88 cars broke the 2s distance so they tailgated what represent a massive 84% of all followers

41 cars have broke 1s that is 46% classed as serious tailgators

29 drivers broke 0.2s (one tenth of recommended) what represent 33% following drivers are classed as criminal offenders

Two extremely serious figures are worth to pay attention. The 84% of all following drivers drive dangerously that is tailgating. This does mean that government ignores the issue totally or even makes an effort to keep it that way. Government must be held responsible for deaths and crashes and trauma.

The second figure is even more worrying. The 46% of criminal tailgators which broke one tenth of recommended distance, they behave like a person who intend to kill. The figure of 46% should not be seen as only 45% but as figure of most serious of the serious offenders. In other words the most serious offenders represent very significant of all tailgating offenders. Government ignoring those facts and refusing to accept this study, knowingly puts lots of innocent drivers in danger. One may ask the question: why government spend lots of money on research at Adelaide Uni and has no such specific figures from them nor they accept this real life data I provide free of charge?

Lane most central lane.

There was recorded 117 cars which follow one another

81 were tailgators what is  over 69%

25 drivers broke 1s what is 31%

15 drivers broke o.2s what is almost 19%

This lane and the closest to the kerb does not show so many criminal tailgators simply because this lane accommodate large trucks.

Overall rate of tailgators on this slower lane with heavy vehicles remains very hight however at nearly 70%


26 March 2010  on Marion-South Rd expressway

257 cars were tested on just middle lane and they were categorised as:

76.26 %tailgators

52.04 %serious tailgators (<1s)

32.14 %criminal tailgators  (<0.2s)

On most left lane 125 cars were recorded of which:

56 % tailgators

41.43 %serious tailgators

25.71 % criminal tailgators

0.06s was not not the shortest recorded distance, the 0.02s was the shortest tailgating distance at 100kmh.

In every case the huge number of tailgators is very alarming and does clearly show lawlessness in Australia. It is an epidemy. While it is very serious and dangerous behavior, it is particularly dangerous at high speeds as in this case where the cruising speed is on average a 100kmh and the government made every effort that limit does not mean what dictionary say, but that it is a standard cruising speed. In fact the real or actual limit is somewhere well above the official limit.

I mean that the standard definition of tailgating is a distance the car keep behind another within time space of 2s regardless of speed. This is fine in theory but in practice the mistake of any car at 30kmh is much less severe than mistake at over 100kmh. For some reason police cannot comprehend this simple fact of physics.

On this specific study, serious tailgators are about 50% and criminal tailgators represent extremely large proportion of all tailgators. In other terms the study shows that there is alarming fact that drivers do not make just a small mistake or misjudgement of following distance. They tend to be extremely dangerous tailgators. This trend is seen not just on this study but across all tested sites.

Authorities are clearly out of touch with reality and they are far beyond control. They are unwilling and at present unable to control. Authorities have no idea about the real extent of the problems. They cannot possibly make any rational rules, regulations or management without knowing what the situation is.

Data gathering continues and will be updated.


April 2012 update

Elizabeth24april2012 tailgate

Essence of the study on the centre lane taken in a mid day off peek

Tailgators <2s 55  Referenced to participants 100%
Mild <2>1s 48 Referenced to tailgators 100%
<1s 44 Referenced to tailgators 100%
<0.5s 44 Referenced to tailgators 100%
<0.2s 19 Referenced to tailgators 100%

The key points taken from the numeric data worth to note.

1. Always tailgators are more numerous than safe drivers  – here 55% and it raise dramatically when traffic density raise like in peek.

2. Mild tailgators and serious tailgators are almost same numerically.

3. The most extreme tailgators are extremely over represented.

The column created for the extreme tailgators is 1/10th of the required distance, and it is represented by an extremely worrying number and that the closest recorded is much closer than extremists and it is 0.08s.

The first point is already an extreme alarm and an indication that the government is absolutely not in control of the road traffic. The further numbers indicate that the road situation is nothing less but the lawlessness.

The current numbers only confirm that the road situation does not improve but rather get worse in absolute terms and by comparison with an earlier study.

Government not only fail to conduct such a real life studies but also continues to accept those first in Australia and the only study  and use them and develop them and conduct more comprehensive studies.

My method is so simple an inexpensive as well as accurate that hopefully school children and individuals will take it up and continue the study also request the government to act on the data and develop the policy which stop this lawlessness. On other pages more information will be presented on the personal consequences of the tailgating. Here is just a strict data gathering page.

The lane closest to the road median shows even more extreme tendencies as described above. To start with there are 64% tailgators.

Tailgators <2s 64 Referenced to participants 100%
Mild <2>1s 51 Referenced to tailgators 100%
<1s 43 Referenced to tailgators 100%
<0.5s 43 Referenced to tailgators 100%
<0.2s 28 Referenced to tailgators 100%

Think about this; how possibly the government “authorities” make their decisions? On what they base? On a guess or the mood? Why do they fail to  conduct at least as good as my research, why do they refuse to accept mine as a base and improve and develop it to a more comprehensive? Clearly the government lives in darkness and is unwilling to use a real life figures, to use facts and based on facts to make decisions relating road safety.


Posted October 31, 2009 by mmistrz

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