November 9, 2006
We've all been there. The driver behind you is in a hurry, and rides your bumper.
It makes the roads a risky and frustrating place to drive.
We're supposed to stay about two seconds behind the driver in front of us, but many drivers are more than twice as close as they should be.
The smaller the distance, the bigger the chance tailgaters could end up in your back seat.
"It's craziness," driver Greg Gerber told us. "It's just asking for accidents."
The Georgia State Patrol says following too close is one of the biggest crash causers.
"If something happens in front of me and I've got to slow up and they're too close, they're going to run in the back of me," says driver Jim Levines. And he's exactly right.
It takes three quarters of a second to process things like red lights or brake lights, and another second to act. That's why you're supposed to stay at least two seconds behind the person in front of you. But we saw drivers only about half a second behind the cars in front of them.
Here's another way to look at it: you should be one car length away for every 10 miles per hour you drive. But at 70 miles per hour, we saw drivers who certainly weren't seven car lengths apart.
Driver Lisa Palmer expects things are about to get worse: "I think during the holidays and things like that people have to be especially cautious."
We found something to be cautious about ourselves: a truck right up on our news jeep, in the middle of a construction zone.
"It kind of makes you nervous, for one thing, and I just wish they'd back off a little bit and give people more room," said Greg.
He says far too many are too close for comfort.
Here's a way to fix the problem. If you want to pass, use the left lane. Slower traffic should always keep right. On a two lane road, just be patient.
If you're in the left lane and people are passing you on the right, something's wrong.
If you cause a crash, you're probably at fault. And that can cost you a lot of time and money.