Driving 101: We All Need Our Space

tailgating1Okay, it happened to me again this morning on the drive to work.  Someone behind me was so close that I could see the whites of their eyes.  A bit too close don’t you think?

Some drivers just don’t understand the rules for space between vehicles.  I know I’m going slow but you can’t push me when I don’t have anywhere to go.  Riding my bumper isn’t going to get you there any faster.    This is commonly referred to as “tailgating” which can really trigger some anger management issues.  Most rear end collisions are caused by the vehicle in the back following too closely.

So what are the rules for spacing?

Title 55, Chapter 8, Section 55-8-124 of the Tennessee Code states:

The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.

Okay, what does that mean in the real world?

Use the three-second rule to avoid tailgating.  Essentially, you should pick a focal point that is parallel to the car in front of you, such as a building or road sign.  You then count the seconds it takes you to arrive at that same point.   Another rule is to ensure that you can see the bottom of the other driver’s wheels.  If you cannot, then you are driving too closely and need to slow down.

If you can visually translate into feet:

  • 25 mph – 111 ft
  • 35 mph – 166 ft
  • 45 mph – 198 ft
  • 55 mph – 243 ft
  • 65 mph – 288 ft
  • 75 mph – 333 ft

If you are being tailgated remain calm.  Do not slam on the brakes.  Don’t add more rage into a dangerous situation.  Let the tailgater go around or change lanes.  This isn’t a competition nor is it a NASCAR event.  The goal isn’t to be the fastest, it is to get to the destination safely.


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