We’ve all been taught about safe following distances and yet tailgating is still among the top five causes of roadway accidents. Despite what you may believe, driving within feet of the vehicle in front of you is not going to get you to your destination any quicker.
As a driver you must keep a proper following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, at all times, remembering that the following distance will vary depending on the road conditions. This also means ensuring that when you enter a lane you are not cutting off another driver or encroaching into the safe following distance that another driver has given them self.
Tailgating is an aggressive act that intimidates others on the roadway; it is a ticketable offense, and more importantly, it is dangerous to both the driver who does the tailgating and the car that is being tailgated. Many accidents and deaths can be avoided simply by following and maintaining safe following distance.
How To Calculate Distance
To calculate the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you, pick an inanimate object beside the roadway. When that other car passes the object, start counting ‘one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.’ If you get to ‘one thousand three’ before you pass the object, then you’re three seconds behind that car.
How Much Distance Do You Need
This varies depending upon driving conditions.
In a Passenger Vehicle:
- 3 seconds, for speeds between 35 and 55 mph, in ideal driving conditions (good road surface, good weather, light traffic)
- 4 seconds, for speeds between 55 and 75 mph, OR during rain, on wet pavement, or in heavy traffic
- 7 – 8 seconds, for icy or snow-covered roads
In a truck, give yourself a minimum of 7 seconds and add additional following distance as your speed increases or road & weather conditions require.
Remember: the whole purpose of a safe following distance is to give you time to brake or safely drive around a car that stops in front of you. If conditions like wet pavement affect your brakes’ ability to stop your car, give them more time to do their job.
If you’re Being Tailgated
If you are being tailgated there are a few safe driving practices you can follow to regain control of the space you need to drive safely down the road.
- Assuming there are multiple lanes, move over to another lane and let the driver pass.
- If you are on a single lane roadway, slow down slightly and let the tailgater go around you.
- It doesn’t hurt to tap the brakes to let the vehicle behind you know that they are too close.
- Do not slam on the brakes. If you’re being tailgated the driver behind you is probably too close to react in time to your significantly reduced speed.
Helping to make the roadways safe for all drivers is very important to Len Dubois Trucking. Our drivers are out on the roadways each and every day and we want to keep them safe. More than that, we want to maintain and contribute to the safety of everyone with whom we share the roads. Our drivers are expected to adhere to all traffic laws, whether they are, on the job or travelling in their personal vehicles. Keeping the roadways safe for everyone can only be achieved through education and continued safe driving practices by everyone on the roadways. There is no reason to tailgate the car ahead of you. You get nothing out of it and put yourself and others into a dangerous, life-threatening situation.