How Two Seconds Could Save Your Life
Analysis of more than 100,000 miles of driving of British drivers has shown that there is a cause for concern for safety on the road. During the 8,500 hours of driving, many drivers were found not to be keeping safe distances from the vehicles in front.
Or worse, the drivers were cutting up other drivers, dangerously close.
The report highlights that many British drivers are putting their lives on the line with these dangerous driving practices. Other reports have shown that more than 6000 accidents a year are because drivers haven’t kept to sensible ‘breaking distances’. This figure doesn’t include accidents where other factors (like distracted drivers, icy road conditions or excessive speed) could also be blamed for an accident.
A result of an accident can be life-changing, and some 30 drivers lose their lives on British roads every year. So, how much space should you be leaving between you and the car in front?
What the Highway Code states
Rule 126 of the Highway Code states that you need to leave enough distance between you and the vehicle to your front so that there is enough time to pull up safely if the vehicle in front suddenly stops or slows down.
This safe rule states that you should never be closer than the total stopping distance, which is the total distance it takes for you to react and the car to stop.
The Highway Code does state that a two-second gap should be adhered to between you and the vehicle to your front when you’re on roads with fast-moving traffic or in a tunnel.
If there is water on the roads, this should be doubled (at least). In icy conditions, you should increase this distance even more.
The report found that when driving in icy conditions, the gap between cars should be about 20 seconds. Yet many British drivers don’t follow that basic rule.
Are drivers sticking to these rules?
Despite the obvious dangers of an accident, British drivers aren’t complying with the Highway Code. One in five drivers will cut between cars when there is insufficient space to allow for a one-second gap between them and either the car in front or behind them. This is really dangerous as this is shorter than the reaction time of a human.
The average gap being left by many drivers is in fact just 1.35 seconds and this has been recorded at any speeds higher than 25 miles per hour.
Sticking to the two-second rule
Sticking to the two-second rule is something challenging for drivers. Mostly because there are few ways to determine what distance that is on any given road. However, there is a simple way to measure the distance between you and another vehicle. You simply pick a stationary point on the side of the road, or on the road, and count the time it takes between the two vehicles to reach that point.
This simple method of determining the distance between vehicles could be a life-saver
You should also be on the lookout for drivers around you who aren’t paying attention to their distances. On motorways and dual carriageways, use your mirrors to see if there are drivers who are too close or are regularly cutting other drivers up. Be more prepared to break around these drivers to protect yourself.
Finally, remember your driving lessons. If you had cut someone up or changed lanes in your driving test, then you would not have passed.
That rule is there for a reason, it is to get you into a good habit of keeping you and other drivers around you safe. Don’t be tempted to pick up the bad habits of other drivers and put yourself in unnecessary danger by being careless with your distances.