Have you noticed that when you are carefully observing the speed limit, you look in your rear-view mirror to see a queue of tailgaters trying to push you along faster?
Driving can be emotive and if we are not careful we can let the pressure of following drivers get the better of us. The last thing we should do is speed up and get closer to the vehicles in front. We would then be the “meat in the sandwich”, too close to vehicles ahead and behind.
We need space all around us to keep us safe. The very definition of a crash is two vehicles occupying the same space at the same time. So how much space should we keep ahead? Observe the “2-second rule”. Keeping a gap of two seconds, in dry conditions, gives time to think, react, slow or even stop in the space ahead. Increase the gap even further in wet conditions.
How it works in practice; as the vehicle ahead passes a fixed point (lamp post, tree) say “only a fool breaks the 2-second rule”. If you haven’t passed the lamp post or tree you have enough room in which to stop.
If you have a tailgater, ease off the gas slightly to create more room ahead. You will be “managing” the tailgater, only adding a second or two to your journey and your concentration can return to being in front of you, not behind!
In stationary queues, keep at least half a car length from the vehicle ahead because:
- You won’t be breathing their exhaust emissions.
- If they roll backwards you can react (sound the horn).
- If they stall or breakdown you have room to pass them.
- If you are “rear-ended” you won’t necessarily crash into the vehicle in front.
We call it “tyres and tarmac”, which is what you should see in the bottom of your windscreen of the vehicle ahead whenever you’re in a static queue of traffic.
Space and Time – manage them and keep safe.