Mind the gap

Discussion in 'Driving/Incidents/Roadrage' started by knighterrant, Oct 13, 2014.

  1. knighterrant

    knighterrant MB Enthusiast

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    A newish running thread regarding a member's crash, fortunately without any injuries we know about, prompted me to post the following:
    This has led to a bit of discussion on stopping distances and keeping a safe gap to the vehicle in front. Rightly so, another member has suggested that the unfortunate driver (Andy) who has sustained extensive damage to his beloved car and is still probably in shock, doesn't want to hear right now any inferences that it may have been partly his fault. I thought it best to bring such discussions to a new thread, although I'm sure the subject has been brought up before.

    I, and no doubt the others who commented in that thread on safe gaps and stopping distances, weren't apportioning any blame to Andy because we weren't there and don't know exactly what happened. What I wanted to do was use use this instance as a reminder to think about the gap we leave to the vehicle in front.

    This was one of the responses to the extract from the Highway Code that I quoted:
    Yes, it's huge isn't it. But you need to be aware that at 70mph you will travel 103 feet (31.3 metres) in just one second! So that's just three seconds to cover the typical overall stopping distance from 70mph. Is it really worth risking your life and that of others, or even a smashed front end to your car, by driving closer than this?
     
  2. automaniaman

    automaniaman MB Enthusiast

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    knighterrant

    knighterrant MB Enthusiast

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    Why not?
     
  4. automaniaman

    automaniaman MB Enthusiast

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    Leaving such a gap will entice others to fill it...
     
  5. renault12ts

    renault12ts MB Club Veteran

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    You have 315 feet to stop from 70 if faced with a brick wall...but if faced with a rapidly decelerating car in front then surely it is shorter?
     
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  6. PXW

    PXW MB Enthusiast

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    Other way round, I think, though I may be misunderstanding your argument? Even if the car in front is rapidly decelerating it is still moving away from you quicker than a brick wall would! So if you are 315 feet away at the moment of the incident you will still have a longer distance in which to stop?
     
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  7. cb1965

    cb1965 Banned

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    That doesn't usually stop some posters from doing just that ;)
     
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    knighterrant

    knighterrant MB Enthusiast

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    Let them. They'll be the ones having to concentrate so much harder. They'll be the ones more likely to crash.
     
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    knighterrant

    knighterrant MB Enthusiast

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    I think you both meant the same thing. Why I started this discussion is that Andy said he crashed into a car he was following that "went from 70mph to 0mph almost instantly" when another car was sideswiped into its path. We all make the mistake of thinking that the vehicle in front will also take time to stop. This example disproves that theory, which is why I'll be leaving an even bigger gap in the future.
     
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    knighterrant

    knighterrant MB Enthusiast

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    Exactly, which is why I thought it more sympathetic to bring such discussions to a separate thread where we're not talking about specific cases and individuals.
     
  11. davidjpowell

    davidjpowell MB Enthusiast

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    I'd like to get somewhere. Leaving such a large gap puts you at risk from the rear as those behind think your lane hogging.

    It's rare that a wall appears in the middle of the motorway, and if your going too fast (rather than too close) that's a different discussion. You don't have to be right up someones behind, and you can use observation to read the road ahead.

    Of interest is that the original cause of that crash was a spinning car taking people out from the side.
     
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    knighterrant

    knighterrant MB Enthusiast

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    Even Andy said he couldn't be sure of the original cause of the crash because he was still in shock. But as far as he was concerned, a wall did suddenly appear in front of him.

    Reading the road ahead is essential of course (compulsory to my mind), but it can't always give you warning that a car in another lane is going to be clipped and sent sideways into the car you're following. If you feel "at risk" from following drivers who aren't able to see that you're keeping a constant distance behind the vehicle in front, then perhaps you should consider that it would be better to have them in front of you where it's easier to see what the numpties are up to?
     
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    knighterrant

    knighterrant MB Enthusiast

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    I agree that a compromise of sorts in the minimum gap is generally more realistic than the full stopping distance recommended by the HC. I've always found that the "two second" rule works well, and still sometimes find myself surprised at how I've crept a bit closer without realising it. It's probably a perception based on the gaps left by most motorists around me that leads to this occasional transgression. But Andy's incident has provided a salutary lesson for me, one that I'll strive even harder not to ignore in the future.
     
  14. davidjpowell

    davidjpowell MB Enthusiast

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    One thing I have noticed in the Range Rover is that it's easy to get complacent and get close, just because you can see so much more.
     
  15. st13phil

    st13phil MB Enthusiast

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    Very true. It's the same riding a touring motorcycle: you can see over the roofline of most cars, so can easily get lulled into a sense of false security regarding stopping distances purely because you can "read" what's happening much further ahead. The reality is that we should always "expect the unexpected" when driving, but it's incredibly easy to let concentration levels drop and to drift into autopilot mode.

    I tend to leave as large a gap from me to the vehicle in front as I practically can as it makes driving less stressful, but it's also important to recognise when those ahead of or around you are not leaving adequate gaps as that's when something untoward is most likely to happen.
     
  16. DrNick

    DrNick Active Member

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    In the incident I had last year that wrote off my W210, the brick wall did in fact come towards me!
    On a normal two lane A road (one lane in each direction), a car pulled out from the other side of the road, probably about 100m ahead of me, as if to overtake, and put itself directly in my path.
    It then stayed there much to my surprise and we had a head on.

    Obviously I had left a big gap between me and the (legitimate) car in front, as this interloper decided to fill it.

    Sometimes it doesn't matter what you do, something horrible is going to happen. All you can do is try and reduce the odds, but even with a 1% chance of disaster, it will still happen 1 time in 100.
     
  17. MancMike

    MancMike New Member

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    I had one of these tailgating me this morning. He was literally inches from my rear bumper. I was already doing 10 mph over the limit (60 in a 50) and there were cars in front of me...

    It was quite intimidating... And stupid of him. One touch of my brakes and it's curtains for him... :doh:
     
  18. Lewis82

    Lewis82 Member

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    I would have shown the tailgater my brake lights as a warning to back off an maybe even started easing off the throttle some
     
  19. meeeb

    meeeb Active Member

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    In regard to the former, what would you say is the difference? They are inseparably related surely.

    Regarding the latter, it was the vehicle in front, an MR2, that was clipped whilst being cut-up. The circumstance that led to this thread was the MR2 consequently being rear-ended by the third vehicle.
     
  20. meeeb

    meeeb Active Member

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    Which is why the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you is key. The further away you are the more gently you can brake, giving the d*ickhead behind you time to react (unless he's semi-comatose. But you can't do much about that).
     
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