How Safe Driving Distance Protects Your Windshield
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How Safe Driving Distance Protects Your Windshield
Zenith Auto Glass

How Safe Driving Distance Protects Your Windshield

As young drivers in driver's ed classes, one of the first things we learn is the importance of maintaining a safe driving distance. You probably already know that maintaining a safe space is essential for protecting you in case of a collision. With 1.7 million rear-end accidents in the United States each year, avoiding driving too close to the driver in front of you is always important. 

But there's another important reason for keeping a safe distance when you're out on the road in the Duluth/Superior area: your windshield! At Zenith Auto Glass, we're committed to helping Duluth-area drivers stay safer with convenient, affordable windshield repair.

Let's break down the importance of safe driving when it comes to protecting your auto glass. Give us a call at 218-275-5555 to schedule your auto glass repair today!

What Is a Safe Driving Distance?

If you've been driving for very long, you know that fender benders are an all-too-familiar scene, even if you've had the good fortune of avoiding one. Driving instructors emphasize the importance of maintaining safe driving distance for several reasons.

How fast you'll be able to stop depends on several factors. One is your reaction time, which may vary depending on several factors. Another is the responsiveness of your brakes and how many feet it takes your car to come to a complete stop.

Here are some things to remember about how those factors affect safe driving distance:

Speed Limit

Speeding is one of the leading causes of collisions. Your speed limit directly impacts your required braking distance. The faster you drive, the longer it will take to brake your vehicle. Even with ABS systems, the likelihood of stopping immediately is not 100%, especially in conditions that are not ideal, so give yourself extra space and time.

Reaction Time

Reaction time can be as short as 200 milliseconds to more than a second. Outside factors will affect your reaction time, including outside distractions, current weather conditions, driving experience, cognitive awareness, and reflexes. Your vehicle's condition and components, like brakes, need to be configured in how long it will take to come to a complete stop.

Driving Too Close Also Leads to Windshield Damage

Collisions aren't the only risk from following another vehicle too closely. Following too close is one of the most common causes of windshield damage that leads to windshield chip repair or even windshield replacement.

As cars pass down the road or highway, rocks, and debris can kick up from their tires. When you follow too closely, these objects can impact your windshield, causing chips or more significant damage.

Understanding Stopping Time

To understand the importance of driving distance, picture yourself behind the wheel in midday traffic. You're pacing the vehicles around you at about 40 miles an hour when suddenly, the vehicle in front of you slams on its brakes.

With a one-second reaction time at that driving speed, you'll need at least 58 feet to stop. However, if it takes your car 30 feet to completely stop, your vehicle will require at least 88 feet to stop. Since you'll unlikely have time to mathematically calculate the speed you need to stop while driving, experts recommend using a three-second rule.

What Is the Three-Second Rule?

The three-second rule is a simple and easy-to-follow to help drivers avoid traffic collisions. The beauty of the three-second rule is that it works just as well for driving slowly around town as it does for driving on the highway.

Choose a stationary object ahead of you along the roadside, such as a tree or a telephone pole. As the car in front of you passes the object you've chosen, begin to count to three slowly using "one one-thousand," "two one-thousand," and "three one-thousand."

If your car reaches that object before you finish counting, you're following too closely to stop in time if the vehicle in front of you has to slam on its brakes suddenly.

Tips for Staying Safer Behind the Wheel

Giving yourself enough stopping distance is just a starting point. Increasing your defensive driving skills can make a huge difference, so a few expert recommendations are:

Watching Out for Projectiles

Being conscientious about other drivers is critical, but you also need to be aware of potential hazards on the road. Freshly graveled roads or areas where the road has been torn up leave the perfect opportunity for small particles to fly up from tires and cause damage to your windshield.

Don't Tailgate

Tailgating happens when you are driving too close to vehicles in front of you, and unfortunately, it's an all too common practice That creates a huge risk for you, your passengers, and the person in front of you.

It can also feel aggressive to some drivers, and if you're following too closely, it can cause the other driver to feel nervous, making them more prone to mistakes and becoming a danger to others on the road.

Adjust Your Reaction Time as Needed

It's also important to remember that the three-second rule may require some flexibility. Remember how reaction time and other factors can impact braking speed?

If you drive at night, in heavy traffic, or with low visibility due to bad weather conditions, give yourself a little more distance. In the event of a collision, a split second can make all the difference.

Inclement Weather

When the weather conditions interfere with visibility or create wet or slick pavement, allow at least four seconds for stopping distance. This applies to smoke, fog, heavy rain, sleet, snow, ice, and anything that interferes with visibility or road conditions.

Large Vehicles

When you're following behind a large vehicle like a semi or RV, you should double your calculations for a safe driving distance, counting to at least six instead of three. Semi-trucks, dump trucks, garbage trucks, and other large vehicles can kick up significantly more debris. They're also more likely to lose part of their haul.

The same rule applies if you see a pickup truck or trailer with a full bed. Even if the load looks secure, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Being Prepared for Driving in Busy Times of the Day

Different times of the day will be busier than others on the road, which creates a higher risk of an accident. There's also the additional stress of being late for appointments or meetings, which can directly affect your mood and make you more careless. If you know you will be going out in heavier traffic, give yourself some extra time to reduce the risk of stress and keep yourself safer while navigating the road.

Don’t Get Distracted When You Have Passengers

Traveling with other people can be a joy; however, with this comes extra responsibility and the risk of distractions. Whether you're running errands or on a family vacation, it's critical to maintain a safe driving distance to have enough reaction time if you need to stop.

Duluth & Superior Windshield Crack Repair

Even if you're careful and always give yourself plenty of space to follow behind other vehicles, chips and cracks can still happen. At Zenith Auto Glass, our experienced technicians can handle your windshield chip repairs and get you back on the road fast.

Contact us to schedule your convenient windshield chip repair, or give us a call at 218-275-5555.

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