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Why do drivers misjudge their following distance?

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Drivers tailgate fairly frequently. There are certainly a lot of cases where this is intentional, such as when a driver is experiencing road rage or trying to get around a slower vehicle.

But there are also cases in which the rear driver does not even realize that they are tailgating. They believe that they are driving safely, but they have actually misjudged how much distance they need to leave between each vehicle. Why does this happen?

Judging the physical distance

In some cases, what happens is that the drivers are just looking at the physical distance, the actual space between the cars. They don’t consider their speed, and they don’t change that distance according to how fast they’re going.

For instants, someone may usually drive in the city, where they tend to go around 30 miles an hour. They don’t actually need that much space to be able to stop in time. But if they keep the same amount of space on the interstate, at 75 miles an hour, they are going to be far too close and they would be tailgating the entire time.

Instead, a much better idea is for drivers to consider the time, not the space. As long as they count off three or four seconds in between each vehicle, then they know that they have enough space regardless of their own speed. This could potentially help to reduce the number of rear-end accidents.

Unfortunately, these accidents do still occur. If you have been injured by a negligent driver, make sure you know how to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages and much more.