Stop Tailgating and Following Too
As you drive professionally, you control the space around your truck. Tailgating, or following too closely behind the vehicle in front of yours, is both rude and dangerous. To some degree, you also control the space behind your truck to prevent others from being in a position to tailgate you.
According to this section of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website,
Following too closely may be defined as, "situations in which one vehicle is following another vehicle so closely that even if the following driver is attentive to the actions of the vehicle ahead he/she could not avoid a collision in the circumstance when the driver in front brakes suddenly."
In the following YouTube video -- "California DMV -
Rules of the Road #15 - Following Distance" - the advice given is to
leave two seconds of following distance behind the vehicle in front of
yours. Remember that this is for a car, not a tractor trailer.
The formula to calculate Total Stopping Distance
Vicki took the following photos when she was on the road with Mike during June and July 2009. As you will see, they are quite instructive.
The first group of photos is of signs that can be seen
along various roadways in the United States.
|A sign that reads "Don't Get a Ticket - Leave More Space." Obviously, this is geared toward four-wheel vehicles that cut too closely in front of big trucks.|
|A sign that reads "Targeted Enforcement Area." You may be more likely to be watched in places with this sign posted.|
|A sign that reads "Don't Tailgate." No other explanation is needed, is there?|
|A sign that reads "Beware of
The definition of an aggressive driver is not dependent on the vehicle being driven (as we shall soon see).
This second group of photos shows trucks and cars following behind each other in various types of traffic situations.
Some of them show definite problems of following too closely.
| The following distance
between a car and a big truck behind it, in stopped traffic on I-95
south of Washington, DC.
It appears the truck driver is vitally aware of the space in front of him.
|Four different following distance set-ups at highway speeds in fairly heavy traffic on I-20 west of Columbia, SC:|
|A big truck following behind a car at highway speeds on I-20, a little too closely.|
|This is Vicki's favorite photo of this series.|
|The big truck in the left
lane is tailgating a car at highway speeds on I-20.
The trucker is so close that it looks like the truck is pushing the car down the road!
|The following distance of two big trucks on the opposite side of the interstate in stalled traffic.|
|The white truck in the
outside lane is behind another big truck; the red truck in the middle
lane is behind a car.
Is there sufficient room?
|Then the "oops!" photo... or is that "ouch!"?|
This picture is from Wikimedia, having this description: "A rear-end collision in Yate, near Bristol, England, in July 2004. The car failed to stop when the articulated lorry stopped at a roundabout. The car's bonnet can be seen deep under the rear of the lorry. There were no injuries."
The British term "lorry" is equivalent to a big truck in the USA, just as a "bonnet" is what Americans would call a car's hood.
This final photo summarize our advice to all drivers regarding this subject.
|A sign reading: "Maintain safe distance between vehicles."|
Are Tailgaters Involved in "Accidents"?
Wikipedia defines an "accident" as "a specific, identifiable, unexpected, unusual and unintended external action which occurs in a particular time and place, without apparent or deliberate cause but with marked effects. ..."
Based on this, we conclude that any collision that involves tailgating cannot technically be called an accident because it could have been expected. Think about that.
Advice to Professional Truck Drivers
The FMCSA's two overarching tips on this subject are:
We encourage you to read the details on their website.
We'll go into more detail on proper following distance on another page.
Money saving tip: Even seemingly minor incidents that happen as a result of tailgating are totally avoidable. They are preventable. Besides being downright embarrassing, they can be injurious, time-consuming and expensive.
Wikipedia says regarding a rear-end collision:
One of the risks of following too closely is the accusation of being an aggressive driver or having road rage. Since you are the professional, please practice professionalism.
Is there anything you can do if someone is following you too closely? Yes, there is! Simply slow down enough to make the driver behind you want to pass you!
Consider the many potential costs associated with rear-end collisions:
Our advice: Just don't tailgate!
Vicki Simons is pleased to
be part of this initiative:
(Click the image to go
to the Facebook page.)
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It neither substitutes for professional advice nor negates user responsibility to do due diligence.