March 11, 2020
Most rear-end collisions are caused when drivers do not obey sufficient following distances. This is also known as Tailgating- often regarded as a form of aggressive driving behaviour. In South Africa, with the high prevalence of road rage, tailgating might contribute towards retaliation by other drivers and initiate instances of road rage.
Adequate following distances enable drivers to adjust in emergency situations and bring their vehicles to a stop safely – time that could mean the difference between life and death.
“International studies have indicated that when a driver follows another vehicle at 100 kilometres per hour and the vehicle in front suddenly applies the brakes, the driver following will need about one and a half seconds to react. If there is not enough distance between the vehicles – the driver following would not be able to stop.”
Abrupt stopping could be caused by a variety of unforeseen events such as:
- Debris on the road
- Pedestrians or stray animals
- Other drivers falling asleep, drunk drivers or drivers swerving across the road to evade hazards
- Drivers being distracted, i.e. answering calls etc
The 2-3 Second Rule
Most International road safety campaigns refer to the “2″ or “3” Second Rule” as a guideline for safe following distances. A point on the road is noted, 2-3 seconds are counted, and if that point is still visible then there’s probably enough following distance.
The 2-3 Second Rule is applied as follows:
- Watch the vehicle in front of you pass a landmark – such as a sign, tree, or power pole – at the side of the road.
- If you pass the landmark before you finish saying all these words, you are following too closely. Slow down, pick another landmark and repeat the words, to make sure you have increased your following distance.
- This rule will ensure that you keep the correct following distance, no matter what speed you are travelling at.
Adjusting Following Distance
The 2-3 Second Rule is only the advised measure when driving conditions are ideal. This should be seen as a bare minimum and should be adjusted to at least 5-6 Seconds in the following situations:
- In adverse weather conditions
- Driving on slippery roads
- Driving at night
- When following vehicles with different characteristics, i.e. motorcycles & trucks
- When towing a trailer or other object
To read more on Following Distances and Road Crashes go to arrive alives website
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