Stopping Behind Other Traffic

Red Traffic LightI have noticed many drivers stopping at a red light several feet behind the car in front. Having asked my daughters who had recently passed their driving exams about this and both told me that their instructor had told them, even when stopped, they must leave at least one car length distance behind the car in front. Is it really true that our young drivers are taught to stop several feet behind the car, also stopped, in front?

I wasn't taught to drive nearly so recently, but this is the practice that I had to follow as well. When I came to a stop if I could not see pavement between the front edge of my hood and the bottoms of the tires of the vehicle in front of me I received a black mark from my instructor. This space is a safety cushion and all drivers should make it a habit.

The cushion serves four purposes:

  1. You can move around the vehicle in front
  2. You will not be pushed into the vehicle in front if you are hit from behind
  3. You are not as likely to be hit if the vehicle in front of you rolls backward or the driver backs up without looking
  4. You can move to make way for emergency vehicles.

When my daughter was learning to drive with a standard transmission, I had to exit the car and ask the driver behind to either back up and wait or drive around. She had stopped quite close to our back bumper at a stop sign and we were worried about rolling back. The "L" sign on the rear of the vehicle might be a clue that the driver needs even more space than usual.

Reference Links:


Stopping vs traffic flow

Interesting article. Somewhat related, it occurs to me there needs to be more emphasis on the negative impact that interrupting traffic flow may have. I observe too many drivers who leave a car length (or two) between them and a pedestrian crosswalk , when making a right hand turn. The end result is often they stop abruptly while leaving some or all of their vehicles, in the roadway they are exiting, which interrupts traffic flow and then forces other drivers to  make abrupt lane changes. The possible result of this can be a crash with injury potential.

People in North America have been conditioned to leave plenty of room, too much room in some cases. While I can sort of see the rationale behind the stopping behind vehicles, I  seldom adhere to the rule in a busy urban environment myself unless I run up behind a vehicle on a hill, which may be manual transmission, and may be driven by a driver who is unable to competently handle a manual vehicle on a hill... again, in other words, not very often.


This sounds like me when I was younger and Knew Everything about driving,afterall I was one of the BEST! in my mind anyways.

How dare you slow me down,,I know how to drive,,get out of my way!

And come to a stop,before turning right? How dare you.and leave room between cars,,This is a city,close that gap to an inch so we dont effect the traffic flow.

WOW,,,the driver following the rules should,nt be allowed on the road because they are slowing the traffic flow,,their beiing safe and paying attention,,How Dare They Be Infront of ME!! and Stop Abruptly how Dangerous,now I have to swerve over or slow down,this could be the End of the World or cause an accident.

SORRY I COULD,NT RESIST,,I better leave it up to Drive Smart to set you stright,  Yes on YOUR ERRORS and BAD DRIVING,,I allready pushed your buttons too far for You to Listen to ME.

I will say before I caught on that the bad drivers all around,,,were ACTUALLY ME Not Them,that Now I Enjoy Driving,I follow the Law,(98% of the time) I would say 100%,,but I am Human,so the best I can possably do,and Pay attention to my driving rather than everyone elses,while at the same time paying attention to what the other vehicals are doiing,rather that trying to make them drive their vehical better from MY DRIVES SEAT.  Hard Pill to Swallow EH

Right Hand Turns

Are you really a Taxi Driver? If so, I recommend you look at BC MVA Sec. 165 (1) which refers to making a turn as close to a curb as practical and Sec. 186 (a) referring to stopping AT marked lines at intersections.

There is no advantage to anybody in an Urban area, not even YOU (and you seem to be only concerned about YOU), when you stop traffic, slow it down, interrupt it ... "following rules" as you mistakenly call it.

While I'm at it, there's another pet peeve I have with drivers (including many taxi drivers) who cause congestion and therefore potential crashes... and that's those who don't realize it's perfectly legal to make a left hand turn on a RED light, from a two way street, onto a one way street.  The result of the lack of knowledge, is drivers who wait for green lights to make their turns, only to find that when the light turns green they are unable to turn because of both oncoming traffic and pedestrians making their crossing.

There's a tip for you Mr. Taxi Driver. You're welcome.

Thought I would get a rise from you

Used to be a Taxi Driver,,I got Fired for Refusing to Break the Law while Driving,and Risking Human Life all around me.

But Actually,I am a Professional Class 1 Licence Holder,for almost 25 years now,with an almost PERFECT RECORD,,You?    And I logged 2 million kms in just under 9 years,mostly a Super-B,30Wheeler,and covered half of North America,and might I add,,,No Accidents,,,No Moving Violations,,,,and No Tickets,,,,,Did I MENTION NO TICKETS or ACCIDENTS.

With that said,,Yes I am still LEARNING and will Always,,Once you figger you know it ALL,chances are your gunna crash and burn.And I only say I am a Professinal Now,Because My ATTITUDE caught up to my PROFICANCY to Operate Motor Vehicals.

Thanks for the tip,here is one for you,,a good one,,pay atten here ok,,Once the other Bad drivers,doiing bad things,(and they will) start effecting YOU and YOUR MOOD,I sugest getting off the road for a while untill you can CALMLY continue on your way,Or YOUR NO BETTER THAN THEM!!!!!!!!!

Trying to get a rise out of other drivers

I don't let other drivers get a rise out of me, particularly those who attempt to purposefully.

Do you remember the cartoon Mr. Magoo  , the short sighted old boy who drove completely oblivious about the trail of carnage he was leaving behind him? I hope so, and I am feeling the difference between you and Mr. Magoo, is that not only do you think it's ok to impede traffic but you kind of think its funny to annoy other drivers as long as you are (in your mind anyway) within the law. Am I right?

While we are on the subject, because I am getting some strong hints of the pathology involved here, what is your attitude about travelling in the left lane of a four lane divided highway? Think it's ok to be there if you are travelling no faster than anybody else?

Never try to annoy

Other drivers,and never let them annoy me anymore. And the only lane I would be tavelling in on a 4 lane divided hwy,is the right lane,,Unless I have to pass,or some other obstruction.

And I do drive as much as humanly possible within the limits of the law,,If the Flow wants to go 10-20 km/hr over the posted speed,well I will be in the right lane if you want by,,,if it is a 2 lane hwy and you expect me to break the law because you want to go faster,,well darn EH,,cause I ain,t breaking the limit.  Now if I am on that 2 lane following the speed limit,and the FLOW wants to break the law,,,,well still darn eh,,,,,But if the Flow starts to build up behind me,,,like 8 or more vehicals,,and no passing lane for miles and miles,,,I will Gladly find the first safe place to pull off to let that flow by,rather than starting to anger the line behind,or If I have to wait till the passing lane,I get in the right lane as soon as it starts,,then I will slow down to let the FLOW by,,I never on Perpose try to antagonize other drivers, That just invites even more,,and Often even Worse Driving from all the Bad Drivers,That alone can Increase the likelyhood of an accident.

Good to hear...

that you don't think it's ok to impede highway drivers, that you keep right except to pass... and that you pull over when you have a line up behind you. All very sensible.

More than 4


The cushion serves four purposes: it allows you to pass the vehicle in front, you will not be pushed into the vehicle in front if you are hit from behind, you are not as likely to be hit if the vehicle in front of you rolls backward or the driver backs up without looking and you can move to make way for emergency vehicles.

That space in front also reduces the amount of exhaust that you're breathing from the vehicle ahead, and if there's a large vehicle in front of you, then your vision of what's ahead is enhanced the further you are back of it.

In a conventional truck, like a Kenworth or Peterbilt, you have to keep in mind that a Honda could disappear from your gaze if you stop too close and forget about it; at an intersection with pedestrian activity in one of these things, stopping too close to the crosswalk can block your critical vision of the blind zone ahead.

But even if you're just a regular driver in a line of regular vehicles, having that space ahead improves your peripheral vision; and, it allows you to get your eyes off the car in front (particularly important when moving off on a green, by waiting a moment before taking your foot off the brake) which allows you to scan and plan much better.

Nobody stopped at a red light is going to get where they're going any sooner by jamming up against the vehicle ahead; generally, it's a sign that they're not thinking ahead. Or laterally. 

safety zone

I was taught to leave enough room to be able make an emergency manuver to get out of the way if the vehicle coming up behind you is failing to stop in time and will hit you if you do not move, You leave enough space between yourself and the car in front of you to be able to get out of the way so the car behind you does not hit you if thats what it looks like its going to do.

I think a full car length is a bit much, but, I suppose, if your steer axles are set back far enough from the nose of your vehicle, or if your steer axle is located at the rear rather then the front. Maybe it would make more sense in the days of 'armstrong steering' but in this day and age usually a catastrophic steering arm failure generally will occur before a true 'armstrong' occurance will. The modern steering arm design is generally not built strong enough to withstand the force of turning the whole axle assemble under torque without an assistance mechanism to help it. This is why a strong sudden jolt in one direction one the steering wheel will break the built in 'lock steering' mechanism so easily. Or so I'm told.

Google Ads