How Close is Too Close When Driving Behind Someone?
We’ve all been there. Keeping a safe distance behind the driver ahead of you, only to be tailgated by someone behind you. You say to yourself, “Man, I wish he would buzz off!”
What if this driver wasn’t in a hurry, but was just at a distance that he considered to be safe just like you were with the car in front of you?
Some people keep the same distance between someone regardless of the speed they are traveling at.
This is a HUGE mistake.
Your reaction time is the same whether you’re going 10km/h or 110km/h, however your car will obviously not react the same.
There are many factors that determine vehicles stopping distance including, but not limited to;
- SPEED – #1 factor.
- Visibility – Sun in your eyes, heavy rain/snowsquall
- Road conditions – Rain/Snow/Ice
- Tire condition – SNOW TIRES WORK!
- Weight of your car – if you’re use to driving alone, and all of a sudden you have 4 people and the 165lb Great Dane sitting in the back, it changes your vehicles stopping distance
Use the three second Rule (this rule should vary based on the above factors).
Next time you’re following someone, and it’s safe to do so, pick an object ahead (overpass, street light) and once the car in front of you drives underneath it, count one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi. If you pass the same object before reaching three, then you are too close. Slow down and try again until you are at three seconds or more.
This method is helpful because it can adjust to most conditions. Professional highway engineers agree that time vs distance is a safer approach to assessing how close you should be driving behind someone. Three seconds should be enough time to assess a risk, and react accordingly.
*reminder that the three second rule is tested in ideal road conditions and sometimes is not enough. You may have to add more time in between if any of the aforementioned conditions are prevalent.