Keep your distance
Mahalo, Alan Faye, for pointing out the dangers of tailgating (TGI 10/31). Your advice to allow one car length for every 10 mph has been improved by the “3 second rule.” It’s easier than calculating car lengths and looking at your speedometer.
At AARP Driver Safety classes, we teach our students to allow 3 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. Here’s how it works: When the vehicle in front of you reaches a fixed landmark (utility pole, sign, shadow on the road) you count one one thousand; two one thousand; three one thousand — three seconds.
If you reach that fixed landmark before three seconds, you’re too close! The count should be increased if the road is wet or your tires are not in good condition. (Replace worn-out tires!)
The 3 second rule is particularly helpful for seniors who have more difficulty judging distances and speed. A driver must acquire information; process that information; formulate a decision and execute that decision. Speed and reaction time also factor in. The rule can be and should be used by drivers of all ages.
Besides the dangers of rear-end collision, tailgating is a “distraction.” A driver’s attention should be focused on the road ahead and not distracted by the driver behind.
Tailgating is a crime because it violates traffic laws and criminal laws because it constitutes reckless endangering. Please be respectful and compassionate.
Following the 3 second rule will save lives and property.
Jim Jung, AARP driver safety instructor