As western Missouri gets hit with yet another snowstorm, reviewing winter driving rules can become a life saver. By re-familiarizing yourself with the differences between fair weather driving and winter weather driving, you can avoid a serious car accident in St. Joseph.
One of the most important differences is in your following distance from the car in front of you.
What is a Following Distance?
When you are driving, your following distance refers to the space between your front bumper and the rear fender of the vehicle in front of you. Your following distance is usually mentioned as a distance – usually as a number of feet, but sometimes in car lengths. It can also be referred to as a time, though, or the number of seconds it would take for your front bumper to hit the leading vehicle’s rear fender, should the car you are following suddenly stop.
Safe Following Distances Depend on Lots of Factors
A following distance that is going to be safe enough to prevent a car accident depends on the both the driving conditions, your speed, and even your vehicle. Following three feet behind the car in front of you will suffice for a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. It would be incredibly unsafe for highway driving at the speed limit. Meanwhile, the weight and braking ability of your vehicle should also inform your following distance. Tractor trailers – especially when they are fully loaded – need to leave more space between them and the vehicle in front of them than a regular passenger car.
Even the type of vehicle in front of you should impact your following distance. For example, because rear-ending a motorcycle would cause a significantly worse accident than rear-ending a passenger car, adding some following distance when you are behind a motorbike is a good way to stay safe.
Winter Weather and Following Distances
Winter weather and slick roads drastically increase the distance that you should follow the car in front of you, if you want to stay safe. The poor conditions make it more difficult to bring your own car to a stop. Providing that extra distance can ensure you have the room to hit the brakes, and to take evasive action if you start skidding.
How much extra distance you should add is a point of contention. The driver’s education company I Drive Safely says that your following distance should increase to 8 to 10 seconds in winter weather. The National Safety Council agrees. AAA, on the other hand, says that 5 to 6 seconds should be enough. The NHTSA does not put a number on it, and just says to “increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop.”
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph
Keeping a safe distance away from the car in front of you is a constant struggle on the roads of St. Joseph. Other drivers who care less for their safety – or yours, as well – cut into tight spaces that are dangerously close in winter weather. When these drivers cause a crash, talking to the personal injury attorneys at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph can be an important part of the recovery process. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.