Space Cadets

follow too closelyMore space equals more time. Think about that carefully for a moment as it should be a constant consideration for all drivers. Driving should be an action, not a reaction and the best way to make it an action is to give yourself time to think, plan and execute your decisions safely.

The most familiar situation is following distance. You've heard about the two second rule, haven't you? Pick a spot that the vehicle in front of you is passing. Count one one thousand, two one thousand and you should have just reached that spot yourself. Got there sooner? You're too close then, back off.

Of course, that's for ideal conditions: light traffic, good daylight visibility, good traction, paying attention, well maintained vehicle. Change any of these variables and you must leave even more time.

The good visibility component is something that changes continually. Clear skies are not the only consideration. Winding roads, hills & valleys and large vehicles are some examples of things that can keep you from seeing far enough ahead.

One of my favourite recent examples involves our slow down, move over rule. You drive around the corner and there's a police vehicle with someone pulled over on the shoulder.

No room in the left lane to move into as everyone there is trying to bulldoze the other out of their way. A quick glance in the mirror shows that the vehicle behind you is less than a second back. You can't move over and you'd better be darn careful how quickly you slow down!

Proper following distances, or even a little more than is required would leave everyone an out and the time necessary to slow and move over safely.

How often have you been passed by another driver who moves back over in front of you leaving less than safe following distance? Don't they know that they are supposed to see all of the front of the vehicle behind them in the mirror before they move back? Now everyone behind has to adjust to regain the space and time that driver stole from them.

It is becoming more and more difficult to find collision data for BC on line. ICBC lumps following too closely into high risk driving behaviours and reports the total. Some insight into the problem can be gained from Australia however, where one study estimates that up to two thirds of drivers were following too closely but did not think that they were.

So, don't be a space cadet. Give yourself and others the time needed to drive safely.

Agree entirely. Of all the unnecessarily risky behaviour I see on our roads, this is easily, by far and away the most common one I see. I drive professionally and it makes me crazy when I see people following so closely, there's no reason for it!

You are very correct. I drive 300km/day, 5 days a week. I’m 82 and started driving at 14 with a farm licence.

Have had 1 speeding ticket. No crashes or accidents...touch wood!

Time to plan is of utmost importance.

Most drivers do not have their sideview mirrors adjusted correctly. I was taught to lean my head on the door window and adjust till I could just see a bit of my rear fender. Same for the right side but an imaginary window!

Being aware of what is around you at all times...!

Thanks for this.

Last time I was here I took the link to proper space considerations and found it very informative. It does make a huge difference if the road is snow covered or drenched with rain though and we still have careless drivers insisting on their right to do the speed limit.

I’d mentioned stop signs at Train Tracks before; here is a person that wrote a letter to the editor regarding his disdain and refusal to stop. I won’t get into a letter writing battle with this gentleman; however, I wonder if he has considered that if he now runs through this stop sign and strikes a cyclist who was thinking that traffic was going to stop that he is opening up a huge can of legal worms for himself.

There are the train tracks by Arbutus and Canyon crescent that present this situation on a daily basis.

There is a bike path just past the tracks, in order for a cyclist to turn left onto the bike path they have to rely that people will stop at the stop sign. On Beach Ave by the train station, if driver is coming down the hill heading North and turning left onto Mill road they could encounter (I have) a near miss by drivers driving up and South on Beach that blast through the stop sign at the tracks.

I’m not sure of the legal ramifications of that but it certainly is unsafe and unnecessary.

I have been a professional Bus Driver for over 50 years.

I truly believe in leaving ample space with the vehicle in front of me. I always try and follow the 6 second rule as a bus is much larger than a car, therefore you need more space.

When I am stopping, I always stop back of the vehicle in front of me at a point where I can see all 4 tire on the vehicle.

What gets my goat is when everybody stops right on the bumper of the vehicle in front of them. If they would leave more space between the vehicle they would get away from the stop sign or traffic light, because they have to wait for the first vehicle gets far enough ahead of them before they can move, this causes a chain reaction, where all the vehicles behind the first vehicle have to wait to move ahead SLOWING DOWN all the vehicles in the line moving through the stop sign of traffic light.

I have often thought about what it would take to change the attitude and behavior of new and not so new drivers on the road, particularly those I interact with. Then I look at my current driving habits and thinking processes and how or why they changed from when I was a new driver.

Make no mistake about it. I did stupid stunts with my peers and I’m sure luck or some mystical spirit must have been with me many times to keep me from killing my self and or innocent by standers.

I know I certainly think differently when I’m driving than most people I know. I’ve always been interested, no matter how stupid my actions were at times, in safety and safe driving. My first new car was a 1957 Ford and I ordered seat belts (an option then) because I was concerned about safety.

I’m concerned that drivers today are not concerned about safety for themselves and others and they have NO concept about how their action and inactions may lead to their death or that of innocent bystanders. I find it very scary and I doubt that if questioned about driving habits and related ramifications they would be unconcerned. I wish I was wrong but somehow deep down I doubt it.

What to do differently. I have no idea and I’m concerned there’s no change on the horizon I can see.

Hi there - about sirens behind you - once when I was at a red light, no room for anyone to move over for the ambulance to get through - so I went through the red light and then moved over - it felt strange to go through the light but I felt it necessary to have the ambulance go.

I agree with your comments on leaving space between cars - it's scary when I get tail-gated but move over and let them by - sometimes though, I can't even see the front of their car. I speed - 5-10 kilo. over the limit but still people want to do more - I let them by.

I was once contemplating having a bumper sticker made that would read : "The closer you are...the slower I have to drive." But I bought a truck instead, with a steel bumper.


It bothers me that when ever following too close is mentioned it is always the speeding driver that gets blamed. I admit that I cruise on the open highways above the posted limits other than the speed on the Coq which for me is now at the correct speed. I follow the speed limit there. But I do not tailgate. In fact I leave more space than the regulations suggest with a 4 second space minimum.

On the other hand why is it always suggested that one increase the space when the roads are slippery? I always question how the car in front of me is driving on bare roads and I'm stuck behind on ice? If my stopping distance is increased does it not make sense that theirs is also? I accept the theory that one should leave more space and always do, just question the logic behind it.

I also find that in the winter using 4 studded winter tires means that I can usually pull to a stop quicker than the majority. I also question why there is not more inspections done in the winter to verify that people are complying with the mandatory snow tire regulation in those regions of the province requiring them.

On the other hand why is it always suggested that one increase the space when the roads are slippery? I always question how the car in front of me is driving on bare roads and I'm stuck behind on ice? If my stopping distance is increased does it not make sense that theirs is also? I accept the theory that one should leave more space and always do, just question the logic behind it.

But I guess the logic is that it's not just the distance to the car ahead of you that is the concern, but the ability to slow or stop abruptly on a slippery surface - along with reduced visibility.

Plus which, there could be a deer (or whatever) jumping into the road, could be a moment of inattention, but it surely makes sense if drivers give each other a bit more space when conditions are poor?