Ever been crusing on the motorway when you check your mirror and all you can see is white van man’s radiator grille filling your rear window? Well then, you’ve been a victim of tailgating - the number one driver error on British motorways, according to new research.

A survey involving 22,000 vehicles found that more than a half of all motorists drove too close to the car in front (remember that old phrase “you’d be a fool to break the 2 second rule”? Doubt it). The M4 in Wales was shamed as the worst spot in the UK for tailgating, followed by the M42 in the Midlands and the M9 in Scotland.

But on the M5, M20 and M2 drivers can expect much better behaviour, where fewer than one in ten motorists were found to be too close to the car in front, researchers for the Institute of Advanced Motoring (IAM) found.

The Highways Agency reckons that tailgating contributed to around 30% of all accidents on the UK’s motorway network resulting in injury. IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: "It's obvious that too many drivers simply forget their speed, regardless of the conditions on the motorway or what is in the lane ahead of them. They then follow other vehicles as if they were travelling much more slowly”.

Nothing in the research suggested that old women in Nissan Micras hogging the outside lane on uphill stretches of motorway were responsible for this statistic.