An important component of driving safely is keeping a safe distance between your own vehicle and the car ahead. Determining what a safe distance is, however, can be difficult without a few basic points of reference to help you out. Far too many drivers fail to take this integral element of safety into account, and they make our roadways more dangerous for everyone.
The prevailing wisdom when it comes to leaving a safe distance between vehicles is to go for about a car length for every 10 mph that you are traveling. This is a rule of thumb, however, that can be difficult to eyeball. As such, the Texas Department of Transportation’s Road Tips shares that a motorist should allow at least 3 seconds between his or her vehicle and a forward vehicle, and you can measure this distance by counting the number of seconds that it takes for your car to pass a fixed object (such as a road sign) that the vehicle ahead of you has already passed. If road conditions are less than perfect or you’re driving at higher speeds, leaving a greater distance between your vehicle and the one ahead is advised.
Adjusting Your Speed Accordingly
There are certain conditions that require greater stopping times and that, therefore, require longer distances between vehicles in order to help ensure safe driving. These conditions include:
Slippery roads caused by inclement weather and/or debris
Dangerously high winds
Impediments to a driver’s clear view
Heavy and/or erratic traffic
When it comes to leaving a safe distance between vehicles, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
A common dangerous driving practice that is often employed by aggressive drivers is tailgating, which amounts to driving ridiculously close to a forward vehicle and which is ridiculously dangerous. If the forward vehicle must slow down or stop suddenly (for any reason), there is virtually no chance that the driver who is tailgating will have time to react safely, and a dangerous rear-end accident is almost guaranteed.
Rear-end accidents are often caused by rear drivers who fail to allow enough stopping distance between themselves and forward vehicles. The impact of rear-end accidents is often immense and can lead to very serious injuries that could have been prevented had the rear driver allowed a safe distance on the road.