Rear-end collisions caused by following too closely are some of the most common collisions on freeways and also residential streets. They are also some of the most preventable.
The US Dept of Transportation describes following too closely as “situations in which one vehicle is following another vehicle so closely that even if the following driver is attentive to the actions of the vehicle ahead, he/she could not avoid a collision in the circumstances when the driver in front brakes suddenly.”
The cost of these collisions goes far beyond auto repair. Neck injuries in these collisions cost almost 9 billion dollars in insurance claims. About 25% of the total payout for crash injuries.
HOW TO CALCULATE SECONDS
2-SECOND RULE BUT…
Many drivers don’t realize the distance needed to be safe.
At 70 mph, we cover about 100 feet per second. It takes the average driver about 3/4 of a second to realize they should apply the brakes and another 3/4 of a second to apply them. At 70 mph you have gone 150 feet. The braking distance is over 300 feet. Total stopping distance over 400 feet. Even at a following distance of 50ft, you could not stop in time.
And if you hit someone from behind, it is your fault.
There are practical and easy steps that can be taken to avoid these collisions. At a stop light leave at least one car length between yourself and the car in front of you. When driving in a residential area, always leave 2-3 seconds of following distance between you and any vehicle in front of you. At free way speeds at least 4-6 seconds.
Always be prepared for the car in front of you to stop suddenly.
When going around turns, remember that the car in front of you may brake slightly to make the turn.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT TAILGATERS.
EVEN IN TRAFFIC
Taking these steps consistently will make you a safer driver.