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Safe Following Distance for Light-Duty Truck Drivers


Accidents lead to lost time, injuries, and rising costs. This holds true for an accident of any severity. So, what’s the most common cause of vehicular accidents? Failing to maintain a safe following distance.

If you want to reduce your cost of loss and protect your people, your light-duty vehicle drivers must know how to leave room in front of them.14 Day Free Pass-1

Improper Following Distance Causes Serious Accidents

To some people, maintaining an improper following distance doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, worst-case scenario, it just leads to a minor fender bender, right? That’s not the case at all. 

Accidents resulting in improper following distance are common, often serious, and sometimes fatal.

Not only can leaving an improper following distance be fatal, but it can cause more than just a rear-end collision. There are four accidents that happen as a result of not leaving enough room:

  • You rear-end somebody
  • Somebody rear-ends you when you make a panic stop
  • You sideswipe someone when you swerve to avoid a collision
  • You have an off-road or rollover incident when you swerve to avoid a collision

All of these accidents are serious and can result in someone losing their life.

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Preventing Accidents is Easy - Just Leave Room

Clearly, accidents that happen because of improper following distance are serious. Not only that, but they’re common as well. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions are the most common type of collisions. In fact, 29% of all accidents are rear-end collisions. 

We’re certain that they’re a common cause of accidents at your company as well. The good news is, preventing them is easy. All that your drivers need to do is Leave Room.

Your Operators must maintain a minimum 3-second following distance in normal, dry conditions. 3 seconds gives them enough time to come to a smooth and safe stop should the unexpected happen. Maintaining a safe following distance is easy to do and it makes a big difference in preventing accidents.

Why is Following Distance Measured in Seconds?

This is a common question people ask. Since following distance is a distance, many people assume it should be measured in feet or yards. We measure following distance in seconds, though, because it’s easier to calculate. Here’s how it works:

  • To measure your following distance, start by picking a fixed reference point up ahead. A sign, light post, or overhead passage will do.
  • Wait for the car in front of you to pass that fixed reference point.
  • When the car in front of you passes it, start counting off the seconds until you pass that fixed reference point as well.
  • If you reach the object before 4 seconds, you’re following too closely. Slow down and increase your following distance.

A major part of maintaining a safe following distance is knowing how to calculate it. Teach your drivers how this works, or invest in training that will teach them.

3 Seconds Isn’t Always Enough

We say that 3 seconds is the MINIMUM safe following distance because, sometimes, your drivers need to leave more room. When road conditions are poor due to rain, snow, ice or sleet, traction is reduced. This means that it will take longer to stop. 

Similarly, night driving, inclement weather like storms or fog, or even hazardous conditions such as dust and smoke can reduce visibility. This means it will take your drivers longer to recognize a reason to stop up ahead.

In cases of limited traction or visibility, your drivers need to slow down and leave more room. The added seconds of following distance will give them enough time and space to avoid a collision if there’s a reason to stop up ahead. 

Of course, there’s a number of reasons why your drivers might need to leave more room. It would be impossible to list them all here. Ultimately, your drivers are the ones responsible for maintaining a safe following distance. Remind them that if they ever feel as though they need more room, they should always leave more room.

Teach Your Drivers to Maintain a Proper Following Distance

If you teach your drivers to leave room in front of them, they will prevent accidents, improve your bottom line, and protect people out on the road. So, how do you go about ensuring this happens?

You need to train your drivers.

Driver’s ed isn’t enough to make people safe drivers. If it were, there wouldn’t be 15,913 accidents each day.

You need to train your drivers to prevent accidents, avoid unsafe behaviors, and stay away from all the reckless drivers out there with them. Here’s how we recommend you do it:

If you follow this training cycle, we guarantee you’ll have a 20% reduction in accidents or more.

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