Forced Tailgating

Cut OffI hope that most drivers subscribe to the Two Second Rule under good driving conditions and increase the following distance when the situation is not ideal. It certainly makes sense to leave sufficient room between your vehicle and the one you are following to create a safety margin. Why then do some drivers make lane changes that force the driver behind them into being a tailgater?

When to Move Back

When I was being taught to drive the instructor said that I was not to make a lane change until I could see all of the front of the vehicle behind me in my center rearview mirror. This would insure that there was a safe distance between us when I did move over in front of the other driver. Unfortunately, it appears that this has been forgotten or is not being taught to drivers today.

Heavy Commercial Vehicles

Leaving enough space before changing lanes in front of a semi is critical for safety. Heavy commercial vehicles can have as little as 50% of a light vehicle's braking ability. For this reason alone, you do not want to be in the No Zone in front of a truck.

Maintaining a Safe Space

All too often I am cruising in the right lane at the speed limit when I am overtaken by another driver who may or may not signal before jamming their vehicle in front of me about 2 vehicle lengths away. Now I have to drop back to maintain my space cushion and this becomes especially difficult if the driver behind is tailgating me.

The Law

A driver must not drive from one lane to another unless the driver has ascertained that movement can be made with safety and will in no way affect the travel of another vehicle. This requirement is straight forward, if I have to slow to maintain safe following distance after you change lanes in front of me, you are in violation.

Step by Step

  • Decide well in advance that you want to change lanes. Look ahead for potential problem areas.
  • Mirror check to see if there‚Äôs a safe gap in traffic.
  • Signal and shoulder check.
  • Steer steadily into the other lane, looking ahead in the direction you want to go. Keep at least a two-second distance behind the vehicle in front of you.
  • Maintain your speed as you change lanes.
  • Straighten and centre yourself in the lane.
  • Make sure your turn signal is off.

Remember that half the driving world is in your rearview mirror and deserves as much of your consideration as the half that is in front of your windshield.

Comments

Two seconds?

I thought it was 3 seconds.  It's been like 6 years since I read the drivers' book, but I seem to remember that.  It should be the same as the 3 seconds you are supposed to wait before entering an intersection when the car in front of you has started moving on a green light (which no one does, and which is ridiculous, in my mind).

If I have a driver signalling

If I have a driver signalling to move into my lane I will start to increase the distance between myself and the vehicle ahead to make room and keep my cushion. If the driver seems hesitant I will blink my lights to let them know when it is safe to switch lanes.

I consider this the same as merging. Far too often I see drivers that will not give a person a break. Attitude seems to be you can merge anytime you want just not in front of me.

Read the posts on merging from a few months past. One even complained that if a car moved in from of them it was obviously one of those terrible speeders who always had to be first. You should always merge behind this person. Interesting post as this person is always carrying on about the evils of speeding and how speeders always have to be first. Yet at the same time this person did not believe in the zipper merge as you were supposed to go behind them even though in a zipper merge you should have gone in front. In other words if this person was in the lane you were merging you had to let two cars go by so that you did not merge in front of them.

Lower Mainland

Here in Central Island I find there is some respect for the rules you outline today, but when I go over to the Mainland there is total disregard for maintaining distance the prescribed safe distances. For some reason they have the confidence to believe the brakes on their vehicles have a magic attribute that makes them work 50% better than they do here in the island.

The 2 Second Rule

I thought it was 3 seconds.  It's been like 6 years since I read the drivers' book, but I seem to remember that.  It should be the same as the 3 seconds you are supposed to wait before entering an intersection when the car in front of you has started moving on a green light (which no one does, and which is ridiculous, in my mind).

It's always been the '2 second rule', which isn't a rule actually (merely a suggested minimum following distance), just some useful advice about maintaining a gap from the vehicle ahead. This, because the vast majority of two-vehicle crashes (the commonest type of crash) are rear-enders, which could probably have been prevented if the driver had sufficient time and space to react.

It's worth keeping in mind that prior to this concept (which got introduced in the 1970s/80s) the wisest heads in driver education were counseling that drivers should maintain a car length distance at 10 mph, two car lengths at 20 mph, five car lengths at 50 mph, etc. Which is nuts, because it requires the driver to constantly try and recalculate (while constantly checking the speedometer) as traffic flow changes, and more importantly it ignores the simple physics of increased speed. Ten car lengths at 100 mph? Maybe - on a race track! But the 2 Second Rule which is a minimum, not an absolute works at any speed, in terms of giving the following driver adequate stopping distance in good condtions.

But any driver - especially a learner/new driver - can 'train their brain' to constantly check for that two second gap from the vehicle ahead. Which will then, hopefully, become an ingrained habit. And it won't matter whether the local measurements are in miles or kilometers.

Inasmuch as road conditions may become more challenging (poor road surface, steep downgrade, weather conditions) then any driver with a brain in their head will try for a bit more of a space cushion. But trying to specify whether this should now be 3, or 4, or whatever number of seconds is absurd (although ICBC 'experts' still try to make more 'rules' for drivers to follow - apparently because they don't understand how  and why the 2 Second Rule got created, or the actual meaning of 'minimum'). And yet, these guys have university degrees and some kind of qualification, apparently.

As for that idea of counting to three before proceeding on a fresh green light, at the time it was created it probably seemed to make sense. Oh sure, other vehicles can blow through a red light any time, but it's usually due to them attempting to 'make it' (often while accelerating instead of stopping). That's why quite a few of our red light cameras now have their speed camera function activated. Meanwhile, any wise driver will continue to scan as they pass through any intersection, to ensure they're not going to get hit by some fool on the cross street.

The Law

A driver must not drive from one lane to another unless the driver has ascertained that movement can be made with safety and will in no way affect the travel of another vehicle. This requirement is straight forward, if I have to slow to maintain safe following distance after you change lanes in front of me, you are in violation.

It's unfortunate, but - like many traffic laws - this gets ignored constantly. By drivers, and by police. If a law isn't enforced, at least to some degree, it gets ignored, forgotten, unimportant. And the police/bylaws officers in this province have been increasingly inefficient/ineffective over the last fifty years. What percentage of drivers have actually been ticketed due to following too close, or making an unsafe lane change, in the last few decades? 1%, maybe 2%? In my opinion, if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem.

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I have driven in the UK frequently, having family there. Remarkably, and as much as they love speed cameras, on motorways with high crash rates (multiple rear-enders, typically) they also often now paint white road markings (with accompanying signage) to help drivers realize whether or not they have that two second gap from vehicles ahead. A foreign concept to the BC Government, I guess.

Incidentally, this UK Government item for drivers is worth a look.

As to making effective use of camera technology, it's clearly evident that the higher-speed/volume arteries (mostly bridges with a limited forward view) have the most rear-enders. It would be simple to set up cameras that check following distance (maybe using two or three marked points for measurement, in case of some driver cutting into a gap illegally) and ticket drivers who habitually follow too close. We could do this. But they don't really care, in my opinion. Much easier to ticket speeders on an empty freeway, or miscreants using the HOV lane ... and bring in lots of money for the authorities instead of protecting and serving the general public.

Both drivers

This, because the vast majority of two-vehicle crashes (the commonest type of crash) are rear-enders, which could probably have been prevented if the driver had sufficient time and space to react.

I would say "if both the drivers had sufficient time and space", unless a fully (not-just) stopped vehicle was rear-ended. Otherwise its one tail-gater who manages to stop in-time who gets hit by the following tailgater when a traffic wave propagates down the highway. Braking abruptly on the highway is a "penalty" move in my books, driver should always "look up" and see far-far ahead to soften any potential traffic disruptions ahead for the traffic behind. Haven't been rear-ended yet *knocks on wood*.

Coincidence

not less than an hour after reading your article I found myself in that position.

I made a right turn after traffic passed me, within a few feet traffic slowed down for vehicles turning right into a gas station. Lo and behold behind me a young woman in a BMW was right on my tail. I had to reduce my space with the traffic in front even though it was slowing down.

Had I slowed even more there would've been a chain reaction collision because I knew there was traffic coming through the intersection so in effect she cut off the car behind her. It's a residential street so once we got going there she was so close I couldn't see her headlights. I slowed down gradually and she backed off. Of course the whole time she is in an animated conversation with her girlfriend with her head turned towards her even though she was less than a car length behind me.

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