The Other Roadway Problem

What a great Saturday.  We spent the morning working, then the afternoon at an airshow.  It was a perfect day for both.  After the airshow, it was time to make our way across the state over to Tampa.  This meant driving – along Interstate 4 – through the middle of Orlando.

Every time I drive through Orlando, I am amazed.  I also remember why I do not like tailgaters.  I never quite understood why people follow too closely.  Usually all it gets them is a ticket following the accident after they collide with the rear end of the person in front.

There are a couple of other aspects drivers should consider when they follow the car in front of them too closely.  The first is not being able to see the situation well enough.  In aviation, we know this as “situational awareness.”  When following right behind the car or truck directly ahead, a driver is unable to get this “big picture.”  Consequently, they can end up hitting the rear end of that car when it brakes hard for an obstruction.

If they do not hit the car directly ahead, there is another danger of which they should be aware.  Following as closely as some drivers do, they are unable to see what is beyond the vehicle they are following.  This means they are not privy to the road debris in their travel lane because it is hiding beyond the car in front.  When that car hits the debris and kicks it up, there is a high likelihood it will end up damaging your car – because you don’t have the time to avoid it since you did not see it in time.

Driving as close behind the next car as some motorists insist is not only dangerous, it is unnecessary and nerve-wracking.  Most motorists do not possess the skills or the reflexes required to travel that close behind another car.  Drivers should definitely leave enough maneuvering room between themselves and the next car in front of them.  The old school recommendation was one car length for every 10 miles per hour of speed.  At a minimum, it should be at least 10 feet for every 10 mph.

There is only one thing worse than a tailgater; that is an aggressive driver who is tailgating.

When you are driving out there, be careful.  Be aware of what you are doing with your car.  Don’t speed, don’t tailgate. 

Life is so much easier when you follow those two rules.


© 2010 J. Clark

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