Drive Smart columnist Tim Schewe.

Drive Smart columnist Tim Schewe.

DriveSmart: Forced Tailgating

I hope that most drivers subscribe to the Two Second Rule under good driving conditions and increase the following distance when the situation is not ideal. It certainly makes sense to leave sufficient room between your vehicle and the one you are following to create a safety margin. Why then do some drivers make lane changes that force the driver behind them into being a tailgater?

When to Move Back

When I was being taught to drive the instructor said that I was not to make a lane change until I could see all of the front of the vehicle behind me in my center rear view mirror. This would insure that there was a safe distance between us when I did move over in front of the other driver. Unfortunately, it appears that this has been forgotten or is not being taught to drivers today.

Commercial Vehicles

Leaving enough space before changing lanes in front of a semi is critical for safety. Heavy commercial vehicles can have as little as 50 per cent of a light vehicle’s braking ability. For this reason alone, you do not want to be in the No Zone in front of a truck.

Maintaining a Safe Space

All too often I am cruising in the right lane at the speed limit when I am overtaken by another driver who may or may not signal before jamming their vehicle in front of me about two vehicle lengths away. Now I have to drop back to maintain my space cushion and this becomes especially difficult if the driver behind is tailgating me.

The Law

A driver must not drive from one lane to another unless the driver has ascertained that movement can be made with safety and will in no way affect the travel of another vehicle. This requirement is straight forward, if I have to slow to maintain safe following distance after you change lanes in front of me, you are in violation.

Step by Step

• Decide well in advance that you want to change lanes. Look ahead for potential problem areas.

• Mirror check to see if there’s a safe gap in traffic.

• Signal and shoulder check.

• Steer steadily into the other lane, looking ahead in the direction you want to go. Keep at least a two-second distance behind the vehicle in front of you.

• Maintain your speed as you change lanes.

• Straighten and centre yourself in the lane.

• Make sure your turn signal is off.

Remember that half the driving world is in your rear view mirror and deserves as much of your consideration as the half that is in front of your windshield.

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