It has become the 4–10 second rule — but many drivers still appear comfortable with quarter second reaction times on the road
Driving in Alaska will put well reasoned and methodical safe driving behavior to the ultimate test. Distracted and dangerous drivers are well aware of their actions and the potential hazards, forsaking them for poorly excused entitlements, but are just as aware of how many accidents there are and how they affect our community. So what insight can each of us share, regardless of how we drive, to see a long lasting reduction in the amount of fatal accidents and ditch diving.
Attention to habits. Occasionally there’s an unexpected (or… completely expected) flash of brake lights letting a driver know to keep a safe distance. If driving too close appears to be a habit then breaking that habit needs to be given positive attention. Question why the habit is there what safe habits need to be focused on. Use fundamental tools to understand what the reaction time would have been. Keep in mind that other drivers may have pulled together an unwanted situation by being pushy. What example would have kept a dangerous situation from forming?
Make safety warnings safely. Flashing brakes to establish a personal bubble can be dangerous and should require a well thought out analysis of the situation. Is the driver a habitual tailgater or simply stuck there while trying to resolve their own safety concerns. Drivers often form unintentional convoys and one quick reaction can be the cause a dangerous chain reaction.
Find space. Drivers travel in groups. Focus on finding space. Even though there is a logical reason that vehicles get grouped together through our traffic system there isn’t any practical reason to travel in high speed car clumps. What appears to be rush hour may seem a lot more like a lazy Sunday afternoon a few minutes back in the rear view mirror. Focus on space between groups and recover a substantial amount of reaction time. Doing so will benefit the group ahead (or behind) in return and encourages the development of safer in-motion “communities” during a long stretch where drivers can better communicate their actions to one another in a less crowded environment.
Commute with road buddies. Find those that drive in a complementary style. When everybody is on the same page it’s a lot easier to communicate. Find the buddies at the same speed, with safe distance, and stick with them to establish a stable lane speed. Drivers that keep erratic speed, weave between lanes, and push other drivers around aren’t interested in safe driving. Establishing a path helps clarify their options, however, and will help encourage more appropriate driving while reducing the absolutely unnecessary risk they present.
Car length distance and time rules. Distracted driving is everywhere. The well known 2-second rule has become the 4-second rule with a lot of room for padding. The rule describes a concept of safe driving distance to help new drivers develop not only an understanding, but also an instinct of safe proximity and a way to show safe distance to others.
Focus on simple rules of thumb, wives tales, and myths. Mnemonic devices are wonderful. Can a moose really make it all the way to the back seat in a head on collision? Don’t find out. Aliens are prone to abducting drivers during a whiteout when they are isolated from other drivers. Find out. If a pinky finger at arms length can cover up an entire vehicle in front then it’s a safe distance away. Requires research and possibly other finger/thumb combos.
Let friends know about their bad driving. It’s easier to hear and respect from a friend. Don’t mock. Don’t judge. Communicate concern for their safety and a personal responsibility to keep them safe.
Take ownership of effective technique. Share the reasons, facts, and insight that brought those techniques into service no matter how silly or complicated. Share personal insight in a memorable way. Break bad driving habits by keeping technique at the surface. Adventure and find the right place and time for thrill, or chill, rides. Drive with purpose and be a good example.