Two Seconds To Live!
An ABD campaign to prevent rear end collisions
Being hit from the rear is one of the most common collisions on UK roads and is responsible for significant numbers of deaths and injuries* and considerable cost to the insurance industry.
The ABD calls for a two pronged approach targeting both those likely to 'rear end' and those likely to be 'rear ended':
1. The government should bring back the 'Only A Fool Breaks The Two Second Rule' education campaign. This simple guide is where drivers count two seconds after the vehicle in front passes a fixed point such as a lamppost. If they pass the point sooner than two seconds they are too close. Twice as long should be allowed in wet weather. ABD Road safety spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie explains:
"This is the simplest and most effective way of educating drivers to maintain a generally safe following distance. Last used in the nineties, it requires no painting of the carriageway or expensive (and often flawed) technology."
2. A second campaign to run alongside the 'two second rule' will educate drivers in ways they can avoid being rear ended. This would give the following advice:
- When arriving at the back of any traffic queue or roadworks etc particularly in unexpected places, try to warn following drivers by slowing early. If you feel they haven't spotted you slowing consider using hazard lights as an extra warning.
- If the queue is on a blind bend or humped road consider hanging back before the bend/hump with brake lights/hazard lights on, positioned so you are clearly visible, moving up to the queue only when sure approaching vehicles have seen you. When you've joined the queue release the footbrake to avoid dazzle from brake lights.
- When sitting at the back of a queue leave a good gap in front and plan an escape route if you need to get out of the way quickly. Stay in first gear with brake lights on and finger over the hazard button. Keep watch in the mirror and if a car is careering towards you at speed you can give the driver extra warning with hazards lights then if necessary you have space to drive forward and perhaps up the kerb or onto the verge if he is clearly going to hit you. As soon as you are confident he is slowing then close up to the car in front.
- Be particularly wary when you are first to arrive at a closed railway crossing gate or when entering a fast moving road. If you are hit hard at either of these you could end up pushed in front of a fast moving train train or traffic. Whilst the footbrake is useful for illuminating brake lights,the handbrake should always be used when stationary as a hard rear impact could dislodge your foot from the brake pedal.
- Exercise good lane discipline to avoid being tailgated on motorways. If the lane to your left on the motorway is clear and you are not overtaking then that is where you should be.
McArthur-Christie explains again:
"Far too many drivers just sit at the back of queues, put the brakes on and disengage brain. These simple measures can do much to avoid the sometimes disastrous consequences of being rear ended."
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said:
"Adopting these campaigns could help the government meet their targets of reducing road casualties and would be far more effective than their current focus upon speed alone. Many could be alive today if they had been given this advice which isn't in the driving test. The government should approach insurance companies for sponsorship of such campaigns — considerable sums are spent by them on repairs and injury compensation claims which they will be keen to avoid. Unfortunately persuading the current goverment to take driver education seriously seems to be an uphill struggle."
* According to a National Motorway Group survey carried out in 2004, tailgating contributed to one third of injurious motorway accidents, 70% of drivers were guilty of tailgating on some stretches of motorway and that on average 40% of motorists drive too close to the car in front.
* The West Midlands Accident report suggests that 'following too close' is a definite factor in about 10% of accidents
* TRL 323: following too close = 4.1% of accidents.
* TRL 323 suggests that 26% of fatal and serious accidents on rural roads are due to 'failing to avoid a vehicle or object in carriageway'.
Notes for Editors