Look Ahead! Look Waaaay Ahead!

BinocularsImagine making a lane change and crashing into a fully marked police vehicle stopped at the side of the highway with all of its emergency lights operating. I can only guess that the driver was not properly scanning his environment and looking far enough ahead to anticipate issues before they happen. It might also be time to consider offsetting the police vehicle to the right rather than the left when working on the freeway.

Driving safely requires more than watching the vehicle ahead of you and making sure that there is more than a meter or two between vehicles in front and behind when you change into another lane as the driver in this crash found out. At freeway speeds of 120 km/h you are moving at over 33 m/s. A reasonable buffer of 4 seconds is 132 m. Add 80 m stopping distance on level dry road and you should be looking well over the length of a city block ahead at minimum.

I was trained to offset my police vehicle to the left of the violator's vehicle by about half its width to provide a pocket of protection as I approached the driver's door. This often left part of the vehicle in the highway lane. I later learned on my own to pull as far to the right as possible and do a passenger side approach to stay out of traffic. Even then I didn't feel safe, slow down, move over law or not!

Our highways can be very dangerous places as there are an average of 282 fatal crashes on them each year. Planning and scanning well ahead can give you the notice you need to avoid a crash. Staying as far out of the travelled lanes as possible when you have to stop is a must as warnings may not protect you.

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Several years back I took a job driving snowplow for one winter, what a blast.  If you have ever seen how many amber flashing lights are on the back of a snowplow you would think it would be hard to miss but I got rear ended while stopped at the side of the road, he didn't miss.