If you operate a commercial truck fleet, you probably know that one of the most frequent accidents in your vehicle operation is a rear end collision. In many cases these accidents are the result of “following too close,” where there was not enough stopping distance available.
It’s not always the fault of the driver, as in many cases, another vehicle or motorcycle will try to slip in front of the truck without realizing the distance the truck needs to stop in.
So how much distance IS needed?
Take a look at this infographic. The data shows stopping distance for vehicles operating in perfect weather conditions. If we add inclement weather such as rain, snow or ice to the equation, the stopping distances increase. And darkness potentially increases stopping distance even more, as it affects the driver’s reaction time. So add one second for each variable.
Tips to reduce rear end collisions:
1. Increase the distance between the vehicle you are driving and the vehicle in front of you. Statistics have shown that most drivers keep a 2-second distance between vehicles travelling at speed. The 4-second rule gives the driver a better chance of stopping in time to prevent a collision.
How to determine the 4-second rule: Pick out an item on the side of the road, whether it’s a tree or lamp post. When you see the car in front of you go past that tree or post, count off how long it takes you to reach that same marker. Anything less than 4 seconds when travelling at speed could mean that you are following too close to the vehicle in front of you.
2. Keep your eyes scanning ahead of you as far as possible to detect potential hazards and give yourself time to react if needed.
3. Always know the location of each vehicle around you, including vehicles behind you.
4. While stopped at an intersection, always make sure you can see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you from your normal sitting position. To avoid rear ending the vehicle in front of you if it makes an unexpected stop in the intersection, look left, right and left while counting “123 go” before starting up your vehicle.
5. If a vehicle cuts you off, stay calm and maintain the correct following distance to include slowing down if needed.
6. Avoid conversations in your vehicle and thoughts that keep your mind off your driving.
7. To prevent accidents – or in some cases to define who was at fault – some companies choose to install cameras in the vehicles. There are several companies that market this technology and can provide you with data that will justify the return on investment. This technology can possibly fill in the gaps of ‘who said what’ and what actually happened. However, the accident footage is not always admissible in court.