The main reason for car collisions in the world is not speed, alcohol or anything - it's tailgating! Lack of a proper seperation gap. The problem is part of all of us, and even those who think they are okay, might be a bt far from the truth.
So, let's check ourselves. I bid you all to check yourself at least two-three times in each time you drive over the next few weeks, and more in conditions like rain, darkness or driving heavy or heavily-loaded cars.
Wait for the car in front to pass over a landmarker on the road, like a change in the surface, traffic arrow, paint, shade, etc, so long as it is something on the road, not besides it (like light poles). When the said marker gets run over by the car in front and passes it's rear bumper, call (whether out loud or at heart) "only a fool breaks the two seconds' gap rule" at a reasonable talking pace.
If you finish counting just BEFORE reaching the said mark, your gap is sufficient (a bit over two full seconds). I you finish counting upon reaching the mark or after reaching it - you are too close! In harsh conditions, use the same rule for a gap of three to three and a-half seconds, by using the verse "only a fool breaks the three seconds' gap rule, and I've got to spare." And remember, each quarter of a second counts!
The rules apply identically at all speeds and environments. At 'low' speeds like 20 to 30 mph in towns or at traffic congestions, the significance of a good following distance is not reduced, it is increased!
Now, tell me: what is your average gap?
1. Is it two seconds and above? This is sufficient for safety. Treat a bigger gap (for hard conditions) as this option (as if it were a two-seconds gap).
2. Between two to one second; This is insufficient but better than nothing
3. Between one second to two-thirds of a second; This is most dangerous
4. Under two-thirds of a second; This increases the risk of a collision even more, but reduces it's severity.
I bring this post back, not only because of the great importance that I see in having this poll, but also because I need to state on last point which is the conditions which require increasing the gap:
1. The Road When grip is reduced, more room for error needs to be freed. A gap of at least three and a-half seconds is suitable for wet conditions, more at high speeds and in more slippery conditions. At least eight seconds are good for snowy conditions.
2. The Driver: When the driver is tired or distracted, it's a good idea to increase the gap to three seconds. This is also good for senior drivers or drivers who struggle with maintaining concentration and attention (ADD or HDHD). Also, checking the gap more frequently, every ten-twenty seconds, can help maintain concentration when you are distracted by talking on the phone (hands free).
3. The Car: If you have any reason to believe that your car would take too long to stop, increase the gap. This is true for cars that are heavily loaded with cargo and passengers (two and a-half seconds are good, three at higher speeds) and for heavier cars: Three seconds are good for vans, jeeps and trucks. Bigger rigs require four seconds, and the really big ones require six seconds.
4. The other drivers: When closely followed behind, increase your gap by 50%, and than by another 50%, so the gap is doubled. Also increase the gap from big cars that block your view or carry loose cargo that might fall, and any other problem.
Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Location: McLean, VA, USA
Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:13 am
LOL I don't think there is a one-fits-all solution for this cause some situations will require you to increase this gap significantly, and others will allow you to go much closer - but as a general average rule of thumb I think 2 seconds are a good number.
PS And I took the liberty to fix a spelling error in the title, hope you don't mind.
I am thankfull both for the editing (I take my spelling very seriously) and for the vote.
The question is: Is that the gap that you acutally MEASURED between yourself and the car in front of you? The point of the poll is to get people to check themselves (and for the record, I check myself at least three-four times whenever I drive) and see whether their good intentions meet their actions.
Most tailgaters I have met, were certain that the gap in front of them was perfectly safe! Either because they did not check themselves (or knew how), or because their method of gauging the gap was inefficient, like counting car lengths or chanting a phrase that is too short for an average talking pace.
Joined: Oct 05, 2008
Location: Albuquerque NM
Wed May 16, 2012 3:15 am
Here in the U.S. of A., the recommend minimum following distance in most states is a minimum of 3 seconds. However, some states recommend a minimum of 2 seconds, no doubt because the laws of physics are not the same in all states. In many other countries, the recommended following distance is 2 seconds.
But if traffic permits, it, why not follow at a much greater distance? That way, you don't have to hit the brakes every time the car in front slows down slightly and your brakes will last longer. Also, if the car in front stops quickly, you are less likely to be hit from behind if you are not following too closely because then you won't have to stop quite so fast.
To see whether 2 seconds is enough, try this experiment if you can. Follow a friend at 2 seconds, but in a different lane. Have him make an unexpected stop as quickly as possible and see whether you can stop without ending up beside him. You may decide that 2 seconds is not enough. Also, you have other things to do beside watching the car in front; you have to check you mirror from time to time and do other things as well, so you might not instantly realize that the car in front is stopping quickly.
A three-seconds gap is usually recommended because driver's gauge a two-seconds gap inaccurately, so that when they count three seconds - they get two seconds. A three-seconds gap is also advisory to drivers in heavier vehicles (light trucks and vans), in harder road conditions or when the driver has a long respose time due to old age, some kind of distraction or attention deficit issues.
A two-seconds gap (and a bit more for safety) is sufficient for normal road conditions, and it should be increased if any other condition exists that might hinder your ability to stop so quickly.
The experiment described is decent but since the entire situation is planned, the driver's reaction time will not be as long. Also, different cars and their tires and brakes are also to be considered for the overall braking distance and even after all of these calculations - surely you do not want to find yourself stopped just one foot short of the car in front of you, right?
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