Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Question

I got a call today from a friend wondering if a person sitting back three car lengths from the car ahead of them at a stop light was a bit excessive.  Somebody’s pet peeve. 

Ok, three car lengths may be excessive, but… Is it really three car lengths, or does it just look like it?  Some traffic lights are long enough that maybe you could get out and measure.  I generally sit an extra car length back, with the distance I normally keep between me and the next car, plus the distance from that car to the car in front of him, which works out to two car lengths.  With a car length being about 15 feet, it’s a total of 30 feet.  Yes, we actually measured it a number of years ago. 

So, here are my reasons for sitting two car lengths back.

If there’s a car in front of me at the light, I’m not going anywhere anyway.  A couple of situations from here in Colorado:
A)   Texting and driving is illegal in Colorado, but people still do it.  I was in Denver not too long ago and when the light turned green, nobody moved; they were busy on their phones.  I love the air horns on my trucks!   So the “delay” that may occur from an increased gap is exaggerated by people sitting. 
B)   In Fort Collins I pulled up to a red light behind some cars.  There was a set of railroad tracks immediately in front of me so I sat back off of the tracks, behind the crossing arm, about three car lengths from the car in front of me.  The SUV behind me started honking and gesturing for me to move forward.  If I did that I would have ended up stopping on the tracks under the front crossing arm.  I wouldn’t do it.  We weren’t going anywhere anyway.  You should NEVER, EVER stop on railroad tracks.  Never.  Period.  I saw a Ft. Collins police car behind said honky, and went back to talk to the officer.  As I walked past the honky’s SUV, he started to get out, yelling and cursing at me to move my vehicle.  A few moments later he was chatting with the police officer and had to sit through a few light cycles.  Impatience never pays.

Assaults or hijackings.  Sitting back from the car in front of me, it gives me room in case I’m attacked.  Not all cars have automatic door locks, so if somebody tried to jerk the door open, I have room to pull forward and somewhat evade the attacker.  If he were to come after me, I then have room to back up and smack him with the door.  This is the first and fastest option to protect myself.  I carry a can of pepper spray with me, which is totally legal in all vehicles in Colorado, but with my luck I’d spray myself.  A gun would be a last resort in close quarters like that; too much chance of an innocent person getting seriously hurt.

Getting hit from behind.  Too many cars sit right on the tail of the car in front of them. If the last car in a line gets hit, the domino effect would cause all of the cars to hit each other.  I’ve seen that a number of times.  If a car came up from behind and hit the car(s) behind me, with my foot on the brake of my car, it would lessen the likelihood of my hitting the car in front of me.  Unlike a Newton’s Cradle, cars have crumple zones that would absorb much of the impact force.  I am counting on that and physics to keep me from hitting the car in front of me.

Maybe there’s other reasons for a car to be sitting back three car lengths: They’re talking to the car next to them?  They don’t want to block a driveway?  The driver is really olde and can’t see the car in front of them?  (Don’t laugh, you’ll be olde one day!)  Maybe they know it’s YOU and know it’s a pet peeve of yours? 

Considering the world we live in, is it really that big a deal? 

And just so you know, my pet peeve is people who don’t turn off their auxiliary driving lights on their vehicles.  But let’s leave that for another debate.

Take care and keep the rubber side down. 

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