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AA reveals top five reasons for near misses on motorways

Published 6th May 2012Read Time 4 min

The AA is calling on motorists to respect the rules of the road, stay alert and have a full tank of fuel when taking to the motorways for their return journeys this bank holiday Monday.  To highlight the importance of obeying driving rules in particular, the motor insurance provider has released findings on the main causes of near misses on Irish motorways.
Topping the list is failure to signal intent to change lanes.  This is followed very closely by vehicles suddenly changing lanes in order to exit the motorway.  Also in the top five according to AA Motor Insurance who surveyed over 10,000 drivers who have had a  close call on a motorway are; tailgating, being undertaken and having to negotiate an insufficient gap in cars when joining from a slip road. 
17% of those polled by AA Motor Insurance also indicated that their own fatigue had had a part to play in a near miss incident.  “It’s so important not to ignore fatigue when driving, you risk going into a micro sleep, which is a brief loss of consciousness.”  Says Conor Faughnan, Director of Policy AA Ireland.  “Your ability to concentrate also wanes.   A prime example of this was shared with us by one of our poll respondents.  The person in questions admitted to unintentionally tailgating due to fatigue and almost crashing as a result.”
With the exception of an unexpected hazard on the motorway, AA Motor Insurance reports that all other incidents relate to driver error or a disregard for or lack of knowledge of the rules of the road governing motorways.
“Statistically motorways are the safest roads we have. However they have specific safety rules with very good reason.  When a collision does occur it can be catastrophic.  Everyone has a responsibility to know and obey those rules.” Says Faughnan.  “One driver told us he had a near miss when undertaking another driver, a maneuver he said he did not know was illegal at the time.   A lucky escape from a collision he would have been completely liable for.”
An AA guide on ‘Safe Motorway Driving’ is available to at
Fig. 1 Top reasons motorist have near misses/close calls on motorways (Based on 10,553 responses)

Failure by another driver to signal his/her intent to change lanes 63.9%
A vehicle in front suddenly changing lanes to exit the motorway 62.2%
Another driver ‘tailgating’ your vehicle 55.4%
Undertaking by another vehicle 28.4%
An insufficient gap in traffic when joining from a slip road 25.4%
Poor visibility 25.1%
An unexpected hazard on the motorway 23.9%
Your own fatigue 17.0%
Another driver driving against the flow of traffic 7.6%
Your own failure to signal your intent to change lanes 5.1%
Your own ‘tailgating’ of another vehicle 3.6%
Your own undertaking of another vehicle 3.6%