Safe spacing at red lights

You should be able to see the pavement between the front of your car and the car in front of you when stopped at a red light...

I have noticed many drivers stopping at a red light several feet behind the car in front.

Having asked my daughters who had recently passed their driving exams about this, both told me that their instructor had told them, even when stopped, they must leave at least one car length distance behind the car in front.

Is it really true that our young drivers are taught to stop several feet behind the car, also stopped, in front?

I wasn’t taught to drive nearly so recently, but this is the practice that I had to follow as well.

When I came to a stop if I could not see pavement between the front edge of my hood and the bottoms of the tires of the vehicle in front of me I received a black mark from my instructor. This space is a safety cushion and all drivers should make it a habit.

The cushion serves three purposes: it allows you to pass the vehicle in front, you will not be pushed into the vehicle in front if you are hit from behind and you are not as likely to be hit if the vehicle in front of you rolls backward or the driver backs up without looking.

When my daughter was learning to drive with a standard transmission, I had to exit the car and ask the driver behind to either back up and either wait or drive around.

She had stopped quite close to our back bumper at a stop sign and we were worried about rolling back. The L sign on the rear of the vehicle might be a clue that the driver needs even more space than usual.

For more information on this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Friday.

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