Posted: December 2, 2016

You may think that cell phones are the number one cause of car accidents in Indiana, but they're not. According to an analysis of Indiana State Patrol data conducted by a reporter from The Indy Channel, the top cause of accidents is "following too closely."

The article explained that the danger of following too closely can easily manifest itself into an accident due to various factors, such as:

  1. Decreased reaction time - The driver who is following too closely may not have enough time to react if you have to brake suddenly.
  2. Increased road rage - The driver being followed too closely may become angry and tap the brakes to signal this anger at the driver behind them. This behavior could result in an accident with injuries.

Several factors can play into determining the proper following distance:

  • Car lengths - According to the Indy Channel report, the recommended distance for proper reaction time is based on speed. The article said to leave a distance of five cars when driving on the highway.
  • Speed of vehicles - Determine this by looking at a landmark such as a post on the road. Watch when the vehicle ahead of you passes the post then count how many seconds it takes for you to pass that same landmark or post. Use the "one, one thousand" counting method. You should be able to get to two in your counting before reaching the landmark.
  • Type and size of vehicles - If you are following a semitruck, for example, you need to give that driver extra time and more space to react if they need to stop. The larger the vehicle, the more reaction time needed.
  • Driver of the other vehicle - You don't know the circumstances of the person driving the other vehicle. The person could be a new driver with very little experience at the wheel. The driver could be distracted by other passengers such as children in the car or distracted while using their phone, eating or tuning radio stations.

You can avoid this top cause of motor vehicle accidents by doing two things: allow yourself plenty of room when following other vehicles, and if someone is following you too closely, let them pass as soon as it's convenient.

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