Red Means Go

Earlier in the week I was on my way home from work, driving through the tale end of peak hour traffic when I very nearly smashed into the back of the car in front of me.

The traffic was moving at about 80Km/h in this section of road and it was predicably smooth, as opposed to fast then slow. As I came over the crest of a hill and for reasons unknown, the traffic 10 cars in front of me decided to suddenly break. The heavy breaking rippled through the lane of traffic as per normal, however the two or three cars directly in front of me were caught out by the crest of the hill. To compound matters, the car directly in front of me had some issues which their break lights – specifically, breaking caused his break lights to turn off instead of on!

Night fall was upon us and everyone already had their driving lights on. With the free flowing traffic through this section of road, there wasn’t a reason for the driver in front of me to break – so I didn’t notice the reversal of his break lights earlier. Unfortunately for me, that meant I first realised something was wrong after he stomped on the break pedal to respond to the heavy breaking 10 cars in front.

As you can imagine, I was very happy that there was adequate breaking distance for my heavy little tank of a car to slow down or I’d be catching a lift to work for a while.

3 thoughts on “Red Means Go

  1. Good job Al, correct following distance is the best bet. It is so easy to zone out after work and easily get caught out.

  2. Al, this is the reason I hate driving in the city. Drivers don’t allow sufficient braking distance should the unexpected occur such as other vehicles without brake lights; the occasional driver cutting-in, etc.

    If find even when you allow sufficient braking distance some drivers take this as an opportunity to cut-in, which would be OK except most of the time its without warning indicators. And I agree with Andrew that drivers are tired after a days work and need to be on the ball more so than in the morning. For themselves and the actions of others.

  3. Steve,

    You’re right, sufficient braking distance is critical and it is frustrating when drivers abuse your breaking distance to squish in.

    While I try and give myself adequate breaking room, I was caught out with it in November 2010 on my way to work. It had rained that morning and the road was still damp.

    At that stage I was in the right lane, less than 1Km from work and wanted to get into the left lane early. After indicating, I did a shoulder check and just as I turned my head, the cars in front of me braked very very heavily to avoid hitting a pedestrian who ran through a dual carriage way in peak hour.

    Unfortunately for me, while I would have normally had enough breaking distance, the 15-20m that I closed on the car in front while I checked over my shoulder was enough to make me bump into the car in front.

    Fortunately, I wasn’t going very fast – no damage to my car and only a small amount of pain scuff on the car in front. An important lesson learned though – even when you think you’ve given enough, you should probably give a little more – just to be sure!


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