Do you maintain a safe following distance when you drive? Do you know what a safe following distance is? (Submitted)

Do you maintain a safe following distance when you drive? Do you know what a safe following distance is? (Submitted)

Column Drivesmart: Maintaining a safe following distance

I try very hard to maintain at least a two second following distance when I drive.

By Tim Schewe

I try very hard to maintain at least a two second following distance when I drive. This can sometimes be quite a challenge as it often seems that I am the only driver present that thinks this is a worthwhile accomplishment. In fact, other drivers seem bent on preventing this because they seem quite happy filling up any available space and forcing me to constantly adjust my position.

Beginning at page 72, the provincial Learn to Drive Smart guide devotes some explanation to Space Margins. It explains the Two Second Rule and discusses braking distances. It also sprinkles advice throughout chapter 6, Sharing the Road. It’s a critical concept for new drivers to learn and accomplished drivers to retain and follow.

I’ve mentioned maintaining my following distance but I also have to consider the distance from vehicles following me and minimizing the time that I spend beside other vehicles. Leaving yourself an “out” in case something happens is a never ending task.

Dealing with drivers in front of you is not that difficult. Simply slow slightly to create the necessary gap again and then resume the speed of traffic. Yes, you may find yourself doing this continually, and it is annoying, but better safe than sorry!

The same method works for vehicles beside you. If they are not passing, adjust your position to be ahead or behind them and you have regained the desired space margin.

When someone seems bent on tailgating you, the situation can be more difficult.

Some drivers will purposely attempt to bulldoze you out of the way so that they can do it again to the next vehicle in front of them.

In either case, it’s time for you to leave more space in front because you are now making decisions for two drivers. More space means more time. You can brake more slowly if something happens in front of you, giving the driver behind more time to react as well.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca