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Safety Nugget Week of December 12 - Rear End Collisions< Back to Blog

Dec 12, 2016
By: K. McCarley
Categories: Safety



I had a near miss on when driving home from the airport on Monday, December 12, 2016.  I was travelling on I35 at 65 mph when cars ahead of me came to a sudden stop to behind traffic on an off ramp.  Fortunately, I was following at a safe distance, but I did have to step on the brake hard enough for the anti-lock system to engage and the truck behind me pulled off to the shoulder to stop.  In retrospect, a major factor in this situation was that I did not plan for vehicles ahead of me to come to a complete stop when the flow of traffic was 65 mph.  We often see brake lights on the highway but expect cars to slow down gradually. 

Based on the chart below, the thinking and stopping distances increase significantly with speed.  It estimates that the stopping distance increases by about a factor of four at highway speeds, compared to speeds that you would drive on surface streets. 

  • Be aware that traffic can stop abruptly when travelling at highway speeds!
  • Allow a following distance about 4 times greater, or the equivalent of 4 semi-trailer trucks at highway speeds of 60 to 70 mph.
  • Double your following distance in wet conditions.
  • Drive slower and allow for about 10 times the stopping distance on icy roads. 


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