Question: Many accidents are caused by following too closely, so just how close should follow behind someone when driving down the road?
Answer: The Transportation Code 545.062 (Following Distance) states “if you are following another vehicle, maintain an assured clear distance between the two vehicles so that, considering the speed of the vehicles, traffic, and the conditions of the highway, the operator can safely stop without colliding with the preceding vehicle or veering into another vehicle, object, or person on or near the highway.”
How many times have we looked up and are unable to see the front bumper of the vehicle behind us because it is so close to our rear bumper? A good rule of thumb is what we learned in drivers education,- two to three seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. Another good rule is one car length between you and the vehicle in front of you for every 10 mph you are traveling.
What makes people follow so closely? Sometimes, it is drivers just being rude, and other times it is inattention on the part of the driver. There are a lot of studies on vehicle braking times. Remember this, if you are traveling down the interstate at 70 mph, you are passing over 100 feet of pavement every second. Once you realize something is going on in front of you, and you need to stop, (which on average takes about 1.5 seconds), you have already covered approximately half of a football field. The average stopping distance for a car traveling at 70 mph, including reaction time, is approximately 399 feet. This test was performed on dry pavement and consistently showed a reaction distance of 154 feet, and a braking distance of 245 feet. Remember this the next time you are right up on someone’s bumper. These numbers only pertain to cars. If it is a vehicle pulling a trailer or semi-trucks pulling a trailer, you can through this out the proverbial window, because the distance goes up considerably as the vehicle load gets heavier.
If you happen to be the driver of a vehicle that is being followed too closely, you first need to see if you can legally move over. If you are unable to move over, and there is a vehicle in front of you, double the distance between you and the vehicle you are following.