by Chief Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley Police Department
Recently, I was asked to provide information to drivers about the proper distance to keep between vehicles while traveling down the road. The person observes many vehicles following too close to one another. I was asked to provide people with some information on this important issue.
Maintaining a safe driving distance between vehicles is a key factor in preventing accidents. Massachusetts regulation 720 CMR 9.06 prohibits “Following Too Closely.” This rule states in part, “The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and condition of the highway.” In other words, traveling distance between vehicles must be considered sufficient to stop when necessary to prevent an accident. The appropriate distance will be determined by a number of factors including speed, road conditions, and weather. A violation of this rule can result in a civil fine of $20 or more.
The AAA driving manual “How to Drive” provides some valuable information to consider on the issue of traveling at a safe distance. It suggests when driving at or below 50 miles per hour, you should maintain a MINIMUM travel distance of 3 – 4 seconds time between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This is determined by choosing a fixed object on the roadway (example: utility or sign pole). When the vehicle in front of you passes this location, you should not reach the same spot until 3 – 4 seconds later. An important fact to consider while determining this distance is a vehicle traveling 40 miles per hour will travel approximately 180 feet in three seconds. At 60 mph, you will go approximately 270 feet in that same time frame. Therefore if you are traveling faster, you must allow an even longer period of time between your vehicle and the one in front of you. By maintaining a safe distance, you can provide sufficient time to stop or take evasive action if necessary.
Since we are in the winter weather travel season, it is even more important to maintain the appropriate distance between vehicles. Rear end collisions are almost always the fault of the vehicle traveling from behind. These drivers are supposed to be “in control” of their vehicle and be traveling in a safe and reasonable manner. Please watch your speed and distance to prevent accidents and injuries.
I wish to congratulate Principal Dono, her staff (particularly Mrs. Julie Winans), and the students of the Mason Road School for another wonderful holiday show held last week. The kindergarten and first grade students worked very hard along with their teachers to provide everyone with some great holiday entertainment. I thank Principal Dono for the invitation to attend and congratulate everyone on a job well done.