When driving it is vital that you maintain a decent separation distance from the vehicle in front of you.
This distance will depend on your speed, the road type and of course the prevailing weather conditions.
Below are some guidelines.
Far too many accidents are caused by drivers getting too close to the vehicle in front.
It´s essential that every driver is able to judge a safe separation distance in all road, traffic and weather conditions. The safety of you and your passengers depend on it.
How far should you keep from the vehicle in front? Ideally, you should be no closer than the overall stopping distance that corresponds to your speed.
In heavy, slow-moving urban traffic that might not be practicable, without wasting valuable road space. However, even then, the gap should never be less than your thinking distance and much more if the road is wet or slippery.
Remember that your overall stopping distance is the only really safe gap and anything less is taking a risk!
A reasonable rule to apply in good dry conditions is a gap of one foot for each mph of your speed. For example, at 55mph a gap of 55 feet. In wet conditions leave at least double the distance. A useful technique for judging one metre per mph is to use the "Two-Second Rule".
In good dry conditions an alert driver, who is driving a vehicle with first class tyres and brakes, needs to be at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front.
In wet conditions, double the safety gap to at least four seconds or even more.
When a vehicle behind is driving too close to you, ease off very gradually and increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front.
This will give you more time to react if the driver ahead should slow down or stop suddenly.
This is the distance your vehicle travels
You need to leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it slows down or stops suddenly.
To do this, you must be able to judge your overall stopping distance.
Practice judging distance when you are walking. Pick out something ahead and see how far away it is. One good stride roughly equals a metre (or yard).
Check your estimate and try it out with other objects.
This depends on how quickly you react. It takes well over half a second for most people to react and if you are tired, or unwell, this will take even longer.
If you are driving
This depends greatly on your speed and the size and weight of your vehicle. It has even more effect on the overall stopping distance.
Allow much more time and room to brake in bad weather. Your tyres won´t grip the road surface so well in wet weather or on loose road surfaces.
Overall or Braking distances (OSD) always seem to crop up in the theory test questions and pupils always seem to struggle to calculate them.
Below is a table that may help.
|Overall Stop Dist
|20||2||20 (6)||20 (6)||40 (12)|
|30||2.5||30 (9)||45 (14)||75 (23)|
|40||3||40 (12)||80 (24)||120 (36)|
|50||3.5||50 (15)||125 (38)||175 (53)|
|60||4||60 (18)||180 (55)||240 (73)|
|70||4.5||70 (21)||245 (75)||315 (96)|
Don´t worry too much about the factor- just trust that, when used with feet, it works!