How to Stop Tailgating if You Don't Have a Tesla
At one point or another, most people have tailgated (followed too closely) the vehicle in front of them. While you may be frustrated that the motorist in front of you is driving under the speed limit, the reality is that tailgating is extremely dangerous.
In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that rear-end collisions make up over 40% of the approximate 6 million traffic accidents each year in the US; this results in about 2,000 deaths and just under 1 million injuries per year solely from rear-end collisions.
By understanding how to keep a safe following distance while driving, you can lower your chance of an accident and make the road safer.
The 3-Second Rule
The following distance rule of thumb for good driving conditions is to leave at least a 3-second gap between you and the car in front of you; that way, you have enough time to react and potentially avoid a crash.
This rule works regardless of speed because the faster you travel, the greater distance you can cover in that 3 seconds. As you speed up, the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you should increase accordingly to maintain the 3-second gap.
To calculate your following distance, use a fixed object, such as a building or an overpass to measure the time between you and the car in front of you. If it takes you at least 3 seconds to reach your chosen landmark after the motorist in front of you has done so, you’re at a safe distance.
Of course, if driving conditions are worse (such as rain, snow, or ice), you’ll want to give yourself a few extra seconds of following distance so you can brake safely without sliding and in case of low visibility.
Built-in Safety Features
In recent years, automakers have started putting Forward Collision Warning (FCW) into their vehicles. Inside these vehicles are several cameras and/or sensors that scan the road ahead for impending collisions. It then uses audible, visual, or tactile stimuli (such as a beep, flashing light, or vibration) to alert the driver that they need to brake.
All that being said, this feature isn’t an excuse to drive distracted; it’s there as a failsafe in case you’re distracted.
Unfortunately, not all automakers are making these safety features standard. While companies like Tesla and Volvo are making Forward Collision Warning standard on all their vehicles from 2019 onward, many other automakers still charge extra for them; this can result in many skipping this critical safety feature either because they can’t afford it or they don’t know it exists.
Plus, there are still tons of older cars without this and other safety features that are still on the road.
The Secret to Keeping a Safe Following Distance
Fortunately, you can get Forward Collision Warning in your car without buying a whole new car by using Wavyn app on your own smartphone.
Wavyn monitors your following distance as well as your speed and alerts you when you’re too close to the vehicle in front of you. When used in conjunction with your own judgement, Wavyn can help you stay accident-free, even if your car isn’t equipped with Forward Collision Warning.