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Mechanic
C H E C K
S A F E T Y

Check Your Distance


Stopping distances on dry surfaces for passenger cars (in feet)*

Speed mph

Reaction distance

Braking distance

Total

10

11

6

17

20

22

25

47

30

33

55

88

40

44

105

149

50

55

188

243

60

66

300

366

70

77

455

532

Night driving

About 90 percent of driving decisions are based upon what we see. At night, your vision is reduced. Slow down and drive within the range of your headlights. This is about 500 feet on high beam and about 350 feet on low beam. Be sure you can stop within the distance you can see ahead.


Night driving tips
During late fall and winter there are more auto fatalities at rush hour according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety because night falls early. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) Traffic Safety Department reports that pedestrian fatalities are more frequent between 6 and 7 p.m. With the reduced visibility, drivers should slow down 25 to 30 percent from their daytime speeds. The U.S. Department of Transportation lists four factors to consider when driving at night:

  • the speed you travel in miles per hour (mph);
  • your reaction distance or how far you travel before you brake;
  • braking distance or how far you will travel as you brake; and
  • stopping distance or the total distance you've traveled to stop.

Driving and stopping at night (in feet)*

mph

Reaction distance

Braking distance

Stopping distance

20

44

25

69

30

66

57

123

40

88

101

189

50

110

158

268

60

132

227

359

70

154

310

464


*This table shows the distance the average driver will need to stop while driving at a designated speed using low beams at night. Numbers are based on a driver reaction time of 1.5 seconds. A vehicle travels 88 feet per second at 60 mph. Deceleration is 17.02 feet per second. Other safety rules for night driving are:

  • Drive with headlights on at dusk, night, dawn, on very dark days and whenever weather conditions reduce visibility to less than 500 feet. The law requires that you turn your headlights on when you turn your wipers on.
  • Drive more slowly than during daylight.
  • Watch for road signs, slow moving or unlit vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and animals.
  • Allow for more safety margins than you would during daylight.

Following distances

Tailgating (driving too close to the vehicle in front) is a common cause of accidents in New Jersey. If a car ahead stops suddenly, you should have enough space to stop in time. Tailgating can cause a series of rear-end collisions when many cars are too close together.

While keeping the proper following distance in traffic, you should also know the condition of your brakes. Test them often. Make sure of the distance it might take to stop. This is very important on wet roads and where there is snow or ice.

One car length method

Although there is no perfect rule for following distance, the rule of thumb most often used is to keep one car length back (about 20 feet) for each ten miles per hour of speed. At high speeds or in bad weather, increase your following distance.

Minimum safe following distance (car lengths)

Road condition

20 mph

30 mph

40 mph

50 mph

Ideal

2

3

4

5

Wet pavement

4

6

8

10

Gravel

4

6

8

10

Packed snow

6

9

12

 

Ice

12

18

   

Two-second rule Since most people have trouble judging distances, the two-second rule may be easier to use. It is usable at any speed.

  • Choose some fixed object ahead of the car in front of you. The object may be a sign or a tree. Make sure the object you pick does not distract your attention from driving.
  • As the car in front passes the object, begin counting two seconds (one thousand-one, one-thousand-two).
  • If it takes at least two seconds before you pass the object, you should have enough distance for a sudden stop.

The two-second rule takes into account your speed and the speed of the car in front. Try the rule while driving. It can help you develop good judgment for proper following distances.
Note: During bad weather, the two-second rule should be increased to three, four or more seconds.

Danger of mobile phones while driving





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