Maintaining Mundane Driving

March 18, 2015

Preventing emergencies during your drive

It is always safer and quicker to steer out of trouble than to brake and attempt to stop in the event of an emergency. The challenge for most drivers however, is that they are far too close to other traffic for steering to become an option.

In order to steer around an obstacle or another vehicle while driving, a motorist must create a “living space” around his/her vehicle. Space to the sides and rear of your vehicle are sometimes difficult to maintain, especially if you’re on a multi-lane highway. The general rule of thumb is to maintain a following distance of at least 2 seconds for cars and 5 seconds for larger vehicles. Always maintaining a safe following distance will reduce stress and the likelihood of being involved in a crash

An adequate following distance in front of your vehicle increases safety and predictability in several areas:

  • In the event of becoming distracted while driving, the extra time provided by good space margins will ensure safety and allow you time to get your attention back on the road
  • To stay out of trouble a driver must be proactive; interpreting and determining traffic patterns are key to safety. By staying back from the cluster of vehicles that peppers every highway, a competent driver can determine changes in both traffic patterns and flow.
  • Cruise control saves fuel and improves traffic flow by producing constant speeds. A key component to the competent use of cruise control however, is ample following distance, particularly on 2-lane highways. Good following distances when using cruise, for example, will allow you to stay on cruise when other vehicles turn. In other words, if your following distance is adequate, the turning vehicle will complete its manoeuvre before you reach the intersection where it is turning.
  • To use cruise control on multi-lane highways, use the right lane and set your speed 5-10km/hr less than the flow of traffic.

Ample following distance is one of the fundamental keys to safe driving. Increasing your following distance will allow you more time to adjust to changes in traffic flow, patterns and speed. And by being proactive through increasing your following distance, you will respond to potential emergency situations more efficiently and quickly. Rather than “hoping to God” that you will stop in time, you can simply steer into the space you’ve maintained around your vehicle!


(Photo by State FarmCC BY)