Sep 272010

Sheriff Dennis Dotson

Provided by LCSO


Oregon law states that “A person is following too closely if they drive a motor vehicle so as to follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon, and condition of, the highway.”

So, what does this mean and how close is “too close”. When deciding how closely you should follow another vehicle several things should be considered:

Good Weather – During daylight with good, dry roads and low traffic volume, you can ensure you’re a safe distance from the car ahead of you by following the new “four-second rule.” The distance changes at different speeds. To determine the right following distance, first select a fixed object on the road ahead such as a sign, tree, or overpass. When the vehicle ahead of you passes the object, slowly count “one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand.” If you reach the object before completing the count, you’re following too closely. Making certain there are four seconds between you and the car ahead gives you time and distance to respond to problems in the lane ahead of you.

Inclement Weather, Heavy Traffic, or Night-Time Driving – In heavy traffic at night or when weather conditions are not ideal (eg. light rain, light fog, light snow), double the four second rule to eight seconds, for added safety.

Poor Weather – If the weather conditions are very poor, eg. heavy rain, heavy fog, or heavy snow, start by tripling the four second rule to 12 seconds to determine a safe following distance.

Tailgating – Following a vehicle too closely is called ‘tailgating’. Tailgating is an aggressive driving behavior that is easily mistaken for road rage. Use the four-second rule to avoid tailgating. Most rear end collisions are caused by the vehicle in back following too closely. If someone is tailgating you, move to another lane or turn off the road as soon as possible and allow the tailgating vehicle to pass.

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