Separation Distance or How far back should I be ?
Following the vehicle in front to closely is a common fault, it can be/is dangerous, you wonât pass your test, the driver in front will actually go slower if you are to close, you will waste fuel by driving on the brakes and because you will be hard to see you may get involved in an accident.
Sitting to far back from the vehicle is better but, if you are on two wheels and showing L plates expect to be overtaken in stupid places and have drivers pull in and out of side roads on you with not really enough room for it to be comfortable, because you have given them a gap in the traffic.
To put this in context I donât mind being over taken if is safely done and if I can help the traffic flow at junctions I will, but on the other hand donât set yourself up to be taken advantage of by selfish road users.
So we need to have some space between us and the vehicle if front, but how much ? The normal answer is the stopping distance for the speed you are travelling at. This is good advice but has a very serious flaw, judging distances when stood still is difficult, when moving almost impossible, and of course you have to remember all the stopping distances for the different speeds !
To be honest all this remembering of stopping distances is a complete waste of every bodies time, yes you might know that it will take 96 metres to stop in good conditions from 70 mph but there are very few people who would have any idea of how far 96 metres actually is, I know I canât judge the distance, and that is after a summer working on a land survey measuring distances all day every day.
OK so this sounds like a disaster, we have all this important information which we canât really use.
Thankfully the answer is really simple, in good conditions keep a Two Second Gap between you and the vehicle in front.
Measuring a two second gap is easy, when the vehicle in front passes any fixed point ( shadow, drain, lamp post etc. ) say â Only a fool breaks the two second rule â. OK its a bit cheesy but it works, you should reach the fixed point you had chosen as you finish saying â Only a fool breaks the two second rule â.
This works because as your speed changes the size of the gap changes. The faster you go the farther you will travel in the two seconds, so you will be farther back from the vehicle in front, as you slow you will close up on the vehicle in front.
In bad conditions, wet roads, poor visibility, etc. you need to increase the gap to four seconds, â Only a fool breaks the two second rule, its starting to pour lets make it four â will do the job, again cheesy but it works !.
If you try out the â Two second Rule â you should find that life is a bit more relaxed, you will still travel just as fast, you might even find the driver in front relaxes a bit and makes a bit more progress *, you will have time to adjust to changing situations, and you you will have less hassle from being overtaken in dodgy situations or having drivers pull out or across you at junctions.
*We have all seen this, a nervous learner driver with another vehicle sat as close as possible behind them, trying to get the learner to go faster ! How stupid is that ?