following distance

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Definition - What does following distance mean?

Following distance refers to the defensive driving technique where a motorist allows a minimum traveling space with the vehicle ahead, closing a safe distance between the front and rear bumpers to avoid any collisions. Following distance serves as a gauge to regulate traffic flow where motorists are accountable for exercising discretion when traveling behind other vehicles to preclude vehicular accidents.

SureHire explains following distance

Following distance is not a cut-and-dry method for measuring the extent of safety on the road since motorists handle vehicles differently while driving; however, exceptions to the rule have evolved to help curb the incidence rate for rear-end collisions. A traditional means of driver safety proposes a car length’s space coinciding with a ten mph interval, for example, factoring a multiple of six cars’ length at a speed of 60 mph as an average estimate when traveling on the highway. However, the two-second rule was introduced later as a viable approach to deter tailgating while, concurrently, lessening the risk of a collision. This strategy helps motorists observe roadside landmarks as reference points for two different vehicles using their front and rear-end bumpers as objective spatial cues to cover a safe following distance relative to the speed limit.

Although the two-second rule serves as a general criterion for a safe following distance in many situations, three or four-second intervals play a factor in unpredictable driving scenarios such as weather conditions and construction work zones. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), motor vehicle accidents are a leading economic constraint on businesses through high medical expenditure costs, workers’ compensation claims, damages costs, and productivity loss. For individuals who operate commercial motor vehicles (CMV) or commute between worksite destinations, a vital component to defensive driving skills is having awareness about following distance practices to offset potential liability risks.

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