The Dangers of Following Too Closely
A common driver error fleet instructors see all too often is following or stopping too close to another vehicle.
How far back should you stop or follow behind another vehicle in traffic? The most accurate way to measure space while driving behind another vehicle is by following what is commonly known as the three-second rule. This means keeping a minimum three-second space between you and the vehicle you are following. However, if you drive a large commercial vehicle, you should use a minimum four-second following distance in traffic.
To figure out the three-second following distance, look at the vehicle in front of you. When the back of that vehicle passes a fixed object like a sign, a tree or a road marking, start counting. Count one-thousand-and-one, one-thousand-and-two, one-thousand-and-three. If the front of your vehicle reaches the object before you are finished counting, you are following too closely and need to slow down.
When stopping in traffic, always have a way out. Leave approximately one vehicle space between you and the vehicle stopped in front of you; doing so can protect you from getting stuck in traffic or possibly in a crash with another vehicle. Use extra caution when coming to a stop behind a large vehicle on an incline; large vehicles can roll back as much as 4.5 metres when the driver's foot is taken off the brake pedal to accelerate.
Remember, as a driver you have the most control over the space in front of your vehicle, so always leave yourself a way out.
For more information on this topic, please see Dangers of Following Too Closely by The Alberta Motor Association (August 24, 2010).
Tia Chisholm, HUB International TRANSPORTATION
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