Stopping at intersection - who is right, my wife or me?

OK, for a change of pace from the political discussions, here is one where you all can tell me who is right, my wife or me.

This one is regarding stopping at red lights. My wife insists that when stopping at an intersection I should leave a big space between me and the car in front of me. That way if a car hits me from behind and I get pushed forward the front of my car and the rear of the car in front me are both spared. I remember being told that by one driving instructor many many years ago.

While I see that point, I also think that this causes more problems at intersections that it saves on accidents. This is especially true where I live, where there are many left turn lanes and you often see cars spilling out from the left-turn lane into the regular lane. Quite often I see a car in the left-turn lane leaving a lot of space between it and the car up-front, sometimes up to a full car length, with cars behind it spilling out into the regular lane. There is virtually no chance whatsoever that some car will rear-end somebody in the left-turn lane and push it into the car in front, yet people still stop that way.

Even for the straight lane, I often see cars backed up a lot with a lot of space between them. Those longer back-ups can wait for longer waits, especially when the light turns red before all of the cars which were waiting could go. That happens often too. In that case I do see where one could be rear-ended, so I will usually stop with some space ahead of me at first. Then when a car stops behind me, I will pull up further.

So, who is correct? And, how do you handle those situations?

Your wife is right. It’s also to give you the ability to drive away if someone tries to attack you or car jack you. It’s the way we are trained in the police academy.

Depends on the definition of “a big space.” I think bumper to bumper can cause damage if there is an accident that might not otherwise happen. But 12-18 inches should be enough, more might cause problems for other traffic. And, you shouldn’t block spaces that are supposed to be open.

I leave enough space that I can easily pull around the car in front of me if I have to, maybe 6-8 feet. Maybe split the difference with your wife, if she says keep 20 feet from the car in front make it 10. I understand your wife’s concern, but how often have you been rear-ended?

Yup, 100%. This is frequently on my mind when out driving. I always leave myself an out in case some deranged piece of shit attempts to attack me.

As for protracting the traffic problems…

Your wife is right about that too. To have a meaningful impact on traffic conditions, you would have to exert control over a significant number of other drivers and make them do the same thing.

You can have principles and feel good about your own immeasurably small contribution to collective karma, but all the other jackasses around you are going to do whatever they’re going to do. Your own isolated actions will not meaningfully improve the flow of traffic.

Sorry, but it’s true.

On top of that, even if everyone did pack in like sardines, you would also somehow have to make them pay attention to when the light turns green, so that they take their feet off the brakes and get ready to press the gas pedal, like disciplined, aggressive European drivers do.

Too many American drivers are slow moving, lumbering shitheads looking at their phones at stoplights without maintaining the slightest awareness of their surroundings (not even counting the elderly drivers, who cannot help being slow). Frequently they do not even turn their attention back to the road until the car in front of them starts moving, whereby they still slowly come off the brake, and slowly start moving forward.

Multiply this times even a quarter of the cars on the road (and it’s more than a quarter) and you have an unsolvable traffic mess.

This is why government should not run the roads. Competitive private enterprise would have found a way around this kind of shit long ago.

You might as well adopt your wife’s principle (and Wintermute’s too) of maximizing the safety to your own vehicle, given your inability to control your fellow drivers.

I leave a half car length of room or more but not to avoid accidents, in 40 years of driving I’ve never been rear ended so that doesn’t make sense to me. I leave room for two reasons, if the car in front breaks down or is busy tweeting I have room to go around. In fact I won’t usually honk, I’ll just calmly go around if it’s safe. The other reason is in case there is a nut bag who starts shooting. I’ll also leave room in a drive thru for this reason. I recall reading a story of a guy shooting up a drive thru and cars were unable to get away, I assume he killed the first driver.

Here in GA drivers won’t pull into an intersection preparing to turn left when there’s room. If I’m behind this guy, I’ll let him miss one opportunity. If he blows the next, I’ll just go around him and turn left.

When any man asks if his wife is right, the answer is always yes. Regardless of the facts.

This topic was automatically closed 7 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.