November 20, 2000
The thrill of it all
When traveling our local freeways and byways I see things going on that would terrorize the so-called gunfighters of old.
I see nice folks doing seventy-five to eighty miles per hour on pavement that has been dry for months but now is being made slick by long-awaited rain. One can only hope nothing occurs to cause an emergency stop situation.
I see people traveling at the afore-mentioned speeds only twenty to thirty feet behind the car in front of them.
If you have read any of the safety tips for safe operation of a vehicle there is one which states that you should be one car length back for every ten miles per hour. The average vehicle is approximately thirteen feet long.
At seventy miles per hour you should be ninety feet back with one extra car length for good measure. One hundred feet is twice the average width of a city building lot.
At sixty miles per hour your vehicle is traveling at eighty-eight feet per second. The average reaction time to a sudden situation is about three-tenths of a second.
The arithmetic of that fact shows that before the act of bringing the vehicle to a stop begins, approximately twenty-six of the eighty-eight is already gone, leaving you with sixty-two feet to come to a complete stop.
At this speed it takes sixty-five feet to accomplish a safe stop. However, having only sixty- two feet left to work with, you just traveled three feet through the automobile in front of you. Why then, would anyone tailgate as close as twenty to thirty feet.
Much pondering has been done about these problems and the only reason that makes any plausible sense is, "it must be the thrill of it all."
I care about all of you.
Dave Bellin, Carnation