Safe Following Distance

Cut OffIt is interesting to watch drivers following others in poor road conditions. They're still far too close for the speed being travelled, and their wipers are going like mad trying to keep the windshield clear. That's good news for the people that sell washer fluid but one does wonder why these drivers don't just drop back a few vehicle lengths and let the spray settle before they have to drive through it.

With the roads the way they are, the Two Second rule is not a good one. Following distances should be lengthened to four seconds or more if the roads are not clean and dry to maintain your margin of safety.

80 kilometers an hour is 22 meters per second. Can you judge accurately when your vehicle is at least 44 meters from the vehicle in front of you? Most drivers cannot, it's a human thing, not a lack of skill. You can judge time better though. Let the vehicle in front of you pass a point on the highway, and you should not pass that same point for at least two seconds and with reduced traction, I would suggest at least three or four seconds.

What do you do about drivers behind who can't figure this out for themselves? Increase your following distance again. Now there is more time for the driver behind you to wake up and figure out they need to slow down if something happens. You have helped them do the thinking and done what is required to make yourself safe.

If you are uncomfortable with this approach, pull over and stop. Let the discourteous driver pass by and then pull back onto the road and carry on. It is better to be inconvenienced than involved in a collision!

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