Skip to main content

An easy trap to get caught up in because almost everyone does it. The number one cause of crashes during morning and evening rush hour traffic is the rear end collision. Braking systems are getting more sophisticated. Cars and motorcycles can stop shorter than they have in the past. But, if you don’t allow enough space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you, there will just not be enough distance to stop no matter how good your brakes are.

There are different ways to determine your proper following distance. The old method was “one car length for every 10 miles per hour”. The flaw with this method was, what is the length of your vehicle? Are you driving a VW bug or a F250 extended cab pick-up truck? Another method to determine proper spacing is using the “two second” method. Pick a fixed object the vehicle in front of you just passed and count “one thousand one, one thousand two”. The idea is that you should not have passed the object you picked before you finish saying “one thousand two”. Another quick way that works well is to look at the speed you are traveling. Take that speed and triple that number it in your mind. Then change that number from speed to feet. Example: If you are traveling on the highway at 70 mph, 3 X 70 mph = 210 mph. Change 210 mph to 210 feet and that is how many feet you should be behind the vehicle in front of you.

I know what will happen if you leave that much appropriate following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Other vehicles will cut in front of you because you left so much space. This can get frustrating. You have to remind yourself that you left that much space in front of you, not so others can cut into that space, but so you have enough time and space to react to brake or swerve to avoid a hazard if necessary.

How do you know whether or not you typically tailgate? There is an easy self-check. The next time you are out driving or riding behind another vehicle pick an object that has just emersed out from under the rear of that vehicle such as a manhole cover or other spot on the roadway. See if you are able to swerve and not run over that object. If you cannot miss the object, you are following too closely.

We must be more aware of our following distance when we are riding our motorcycles then when we are driving a car. Hitting something with your car is not as serious as hitting something while riding your motorcycle.

Ride safe and back-off,


Leave a Reply

Translate »