Maintaining a safe following distance in the city: can it be done?


May 16 2018

· 2 min
Maintaining a safe following distance in the city: can it be done?

Maintaining a safe following distance with other cars is one of the most basic, yet least followed rules of the road. Too often we see tailgating occur, even though it puts everyone’s life at risk! Even when you come to a complete stop, you still need to leave a gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. If someone hits you, it’s crucial that you don’t hit the person in front of you. Over 40% of car accidents are rear end collisions. You need that room!


Now, maintaining a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you can get a little more difficult in a big city. When traffic is backed up and the cars are within inches of each other, is it really possible to maintain a safe distance? ABSOLUTELY!


Keeping a safe distance won’t make you get to your destination slower.


You can either drive bumper-to-bumper with the person in front of you, risking an accident, or you can leave a reasonable amount of space in between cars. Either way, you’re behind someone, so you’re probably going to get there at roughly the same time. It’s up to you!


Now, you might be thinking “easier said than done”. Maintaining a safe distance in a large city can be hard! People will try to cut you off and push into the space between you and the vehicle in front of you. At this point, all you need to do is adjust and try not to get angry. Remember that at the end of the day, you won’t be the one in an accident. You made the right decisions, and you’re putting safety in front of your schedule! Just because everyone else is bumper-to-bumper, doesn’t mean you have to be. You won’t be sorry for taking safety precautions.


Driving behind a transport truck in the city can be especially dangerous. A transport truck can weigh up to 80,000lbs, which can make for a very destructive crash. It’s especially important to refrain from following too close to these trucks, as one of their primary blind spots is directly behind the trailer. If you’re too close, there’s a good chance they don’t know you’re there. At Erb, our drivers are specifically trained to stay away from the cars they drive behind. Our training and safety procedures outline road safety practices, including appropriate following distances. Our drivers are also taught to constantly be aware of their blind spots, but it’s up to everyone on the road to be diligent in their safety practices!


Big city driving can also be extremely distracting. One way streets, bright lights, big signs, pedestrians, cyclists, and construction can all be huge interruptions while driving. All of these disturbances can distract drivers from watching what’s right in front of them. If someone looks away for too long and hits the back of your car, it’s imperative that you don’t go into the vehicle in front of you. This is exactly how multiple car collisions and pile-up’s happen. Although it’s hard, maintaining a safe following distance in the city is crucial.


  • When you see the car in front of you brake, start slowing down immediately.
  • Be patient – you’d rather get there a little late than not get there at all!
  • Follow the 3 second rule (make sure you have at least a 3 second gap between cars).