- Always Follow at a Safe Distance
The most effective thing to do is maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. This rule applies whether you’re driving on the freeway, around the block, or down a winding mountain road.
Below is an easy method to make sure you’re following the vehicle in front of you at a safe distance. If you can count to three, you got it covered.
- Feel free to pick any object you see as a reference point. This can be anything, such as a traffic sign, a billboard, or an overpass.
- Wait until the rear of the vehicle you’re following passes your object of choice, and then count: one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.
- If you’re still counting and have already passed the object, you’re following too closely.
- If you finish counting and you haven’t passed the object, you’re doing just fine.
- Increase Your Following Distance if Possible
Sometimes three seconds isn’t enough, especially when road conditions are particularly poor. According to the DMV, it’s recommendable to follow the four second rule in the following circumstances:
- When Driving on Slippery Surfaces. Due to heavy rain or snow, roads can become slippery and increasingly dangerous.
- Driving When Visibility is Poor. In general, it’s wise to increase your following distance after dark, but weather conditions such as fog, rain, or snow can significantly impair a driver’s visibility. Always keep your wiper blades in good condition, and be mindful of glare on sunny days.
- When Being Tailgated. Sometimes you’re the one who’s being tailgated. Make sure to give yourself plenty of room in case you need to brake or stop suddenly.
- When Trailing a Larger Vehicle. Give yourself extra space when a semi or large truck is blocking your view. Doing so will give you a better view of the road, and you’ll keep yourself out of a larger vehicle’s blind spots.
- When Trailing a Vehicle That Stops Frequently. Garbage trucks, buses, and mail carriers all need extra space as they stop frequently and sometimes unexpectedly.
- Your Surroundings Demand Your Full Attention
- Checking your mirrors frequently should become second nature. Always look in your mirrors if you’re planning on slowing for any reason.
- Avoid remaining in another driver’s blind spot, and don’t drive directly next to any vehicles.
- Leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you anytime you need to stop. This gives you the ability to change lanes or pull over if necessary.
- Be an Obvious Driver
Don’t be that driver who stops without signaling or who just stops all of a sudden. Let everyone else know your intentions. It’s courteous and it’s crucial to staying safe. For example:
- Don’t stop all of a sudden. It’s better to slow down gradually. Do this anytime you’re approaching traffic signals or making a turn.
- Use your turn signals ahead of time, and not after you’ve already turned or made a lane change.
- Make sure your vehicle lights are working properly.