We all need your help
Let’s face it; we all need help every now and then. For some people, they know this but fail to ask others to help them. Is it pride? Is it laziness? Is it because they don’t fell there’s anyone capable enough to help them? Who knows, but if they need the help, why don’t they ask for it? For others, they fail to realize they need the help and keep trudging along, struggling every step of the way. I’m a proud person and will attempt to do things on my own, but at some point I do ask for help when I need it. Today I’m asking for your help.
For regular readers of my articles you’ll know one of my major pet peeves is tailgating. I know it happens every day we drive, but it has to stop. Drivers who tailgate never reach their destination any sooner. They only add to the risk of a collision between themselves and the innocent person ahead of them causing thousands of dollars of vehicle damage and personal injury. Do they realize they’re tailgating? Do they even care?
Here’s where I need your help. If more people understood what a minimum safe following distance was and why they need to stay further back from the driver ahead of them, perhaps we can reduce a major statistic across our driving community; a rear crash. Maybe if you understood this in more detail, you could help explain this to your friends and family who may tailgate.
The minimum safe following distance at city speeds in dry conditions is 2 seconds. It’s not car lengths like you may have been taught many years ago. Let me explain why it’s 2 seconds. A lot of the process comes from your brain. Once the driver ahead of you applies their brakes and shows their brake lights, it will take approximately ¾ of a second for your brain to realize this and send a message to your foot to come off the gas. It then takes another ¾ of a second for your brain to tell your foot to go to the brake. Finally, it then takes roughly ½ a second for you to stop your vehicle at city speeds, on dry roads. If you add it up, it totals 2 seconds.
What happens if the road conditions are not ideal? If the roads are wet, covered in leaves, snow or ice you will need to increase the following distance to perhaps 3 or 4 seconds. It will take you longer to stop on slippery conditions therefore the ½ second it would normally take for you to stop your vehicle will now take perhaps 2 seconds. When you are traveling at higher speeds, such as the freeway or highway, increase your following distance to a minimum of 3 seconds if the roads are dry but add a couple more seconds on slippery conditions as mentioned earlier.
Another time to increase your following distance is if you are being tailgated. Let’s think this through for a moment. If you have a minimum safe following distance of 2 seconds behind the driver ahead of you but the driver behind you is roughly ½ a second away, you’ll have time to stop if the driver ahead quickly stops for whatever reason, but the tailgater behind you will crash into your vehicle. If you increase your following distance to 4 seconds and if the driver ahead of you stops quickly, you won’t have to brake as hard since you have a larger space between you both. This more gradual braking will give the driver behind you a better chance of stopping without hitting your vehicle.
I was re-training a licensed driver and when I brought this up they disagreed with me. They said if they did that all the drivers passing them will change lanes and cut them off because of the space between their vehicle and the vehicle ahead of them. I challenged them to keep track of how many times it happened on their 30 minute commute home and their 30 minute commute back the next day. When they returned the next day I asked them how many drivers took away that space and they said, and I quote; “Never mind.” It’s never as much as you may think.
Now that you’re more informed about the safer following distances and why it’s calculated this way, here’s what I need from you. Share this with as many drivers as possible. Help me help you stay safe on the roads. Come back here and let me know how many drivers you’ve convinced to keep a larger space between their vehicle and the vehicle ahead of them. Don’t give up on this. I’m asking for your help.