The Highways Agency is reminding drivers to keep their distance as road safety charity Brake reveals that six in ten drivers admit to risky tailgating.

The survey, by Brake and Direct Line, also shows that 95 per cent of drivers are sometimes concerned about vehicles driving too close behind them.

Simon Sheldon-Wilson, traffic management director for the Highways Agency, said: “Safety is our top priority and we are committed to continuing to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads.

“Congestion on our roads is estimated to cost the economy £3 billion each year, and a quarter of this is caused by the 430,000 incidents we deal with annually.

“Fourteen per cent of casualties on our roads are caused by people tailgating. That’s why we’re reminding people to stay safe and keep at least a two-second gap from the car in front.”

In dry conditions drivers are advised to keep a two-second gap between themselves and the vehicle in front. An easy way of doing this is by remembering “only a fool breaks the two-second rule”:

• As the car in front passes a fixed point, such as a sign or a bridge, start to say “only a fool breaks the two-second rule” at a normal rate.

• The phrase takes about two seconds to say, so if you pass the same fixed point before you’ve finished saying it, you’re too close and should leave more room.

In wet conditions, this gap should be at least doubled. In icy conditions, it needs to be increased even further.

If you are being tailgated you should:

• ease your foot off the accelerator

• move into the inside lane, if on a dual carriageway and it is safe to do so – make sure to apply the two second rule to any vehicle you move behind

DVSA’s Chief Driving Examiner, Lesley Young said: “Keeping a big enough stopping distance is crucial to staying safe, particularly in fast moving traffic when you have less time to react. Always allow at least two seconds from the vehicle in front, and at least double this in bad conditions.”