Proper following distance and lane position

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Proper following distance and lane position

Post by thunderwing » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:23 pm

Was driving the truck tonight coming home from an errand when I checked my rearview mirror to see a harley softail careening back and forth on my rear bumper less than a car length away at 40mph which was the posted limit. I maintained my speed, he increased his back and forth motion until a turned on a side road, whereupon he did the exact thing to the car that was in front of me.

I wasn't pleased with that behavior, nor do I exhibit that behavior to other motorists when I ride.

My procedure is 5 car lengths behind even a slow vehicle for maneuvering room and additional safety while riding the wheel position closest to the road centerline without careening back and forth unless for safety sake to clean the high sides of the tire from wetness or road debris. I don't like tailgating, and I don't do it to others as I don't want it done to me.

What's your procedure and comfortable safety margin?

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Re: Proper following distance and lane position

Post by DarthJ » Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:41 pm

3-5 seconds behind the person in front if possible, lane position depends
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Re: Proper following distance and lane position

Post by WingAdmin » Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:56 pm

As far as possible away from everyone! Car, or bike.

On my bike I like at minimum a 3 second delay. If at all possible, I will stay away from any clumps of traffic on highways, and try to be on my own.

As for lane position - I have long used (since teenage years) a "blocking" position - meaning to the right side of the lane if in the left lane, to the left side of the lane if in the right lane, to discourage "lane sharing cars." That said, I will alter that for road conditions.

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Re: Proper following distance and lane position

Post by mterrac » Fri Apr 15, 2016 5:00 pm

Can't think of a single situation where tailgating would be smart, whether on a motorcycle or in a car.

3 second following distance works for me as well.

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Re: Proper following distance and lane position

Post by OldZX11Rider » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:58 pm

Also like having a bit of space, and more if behind a large truck. Large trucks always get more space.
Worked a few accidents involving large trucks. They always win, right or wrong.
On two lane highway, I'll ride the left track. Usually on a 4 lane too, unless I'm trying to make sure someone I'm about to pass, sees me.
I've been guilty of leaving enough space between me and the car ahead, on multi-lane highways, cars have cut into that space. Irritating but nothing to go ballistic about.
That's only in heavy traffic. Best thing, avoid those heavy traffic times if possible. :D
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Re: Proper following distance and lane position

Post by Al Lenz » Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:56 pm

I have an idea for a bumper sticker. It's probably too big to put on a bike, but I'd sure put it on my car. "To insure a safe distance between us the CLOSER you get the SLOWER I must go"!!

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Re: Proper following distance and lane position

Post by Mike Bethune » Mon May 02, 2016 10:50 pm

Just what I consider a safe stopping distance for the space between me and the vehicle in front according to speed and conditions , as for road position if I'm in the right lane I usually ride about where the car in front of me left tire is.
The reason is simple if there is something in the road ahead that you can't see most likely the car will straddle it so thats why I do not ride centered behind the car in front of me, and I watch for the car to move left or right on the road.
Same thing if I'm in the left lane passing cars, except I would be about where the right tire of the car is.

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Re: Proper following distance and lane position

Post by Dennis613l » Tue May 03, 2016 7:28 am

Definitely give lots of space in front of you, and yes the blocking lanes also.
Can never trust the vehicles around you, including behind you.
Last weekend came up on a car stopped on a narrow shoulder on a two lane road. Went to move over the center line to give the appropriate space in case someone opens their door, etc.....the moron behind me decides that was also the time for him to pass me....needless to say a close call.
Apparently motorcycles in his pea brain have the same rights as bicycles and should yield the right of way to him.....
Of course he turned off the road a couple miles down the way.....everyone is in a rush........

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Re: Proper following distance and lane position

Post by ekvh » Tue May 03, 2016 8:05 am

Safe distance in traffic unfortunately means constantly slowing down because people will always keep swapping lanes to try and get one car length ahead. I try and keep my bike in the car ahead and to my right's mirror, so he sees me. Keeping out of his blind spot, but a safe distance behind the car in front of you is sometimes tough. If possible I avoid middle lanes as it is tough to stay in both right and left side cars' mirrors. I worry about debris in the road that cars straddle.

I watched a Honda car drive up on a chunk of debris a couple weeks ago. Either they weren't watching or they thought it was a chunk of snow. It ended up being a chunk of concrete curb that had come out about 8"x16"x5" thick. I slowed almost to a stop, when he plowed into it, it came out under the driver's side rear tire and went airborne about five feet. If I hadn't slowed it could have come right through the windshield. Think of that on a bike.

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Re: Proper following distance and lane position

Post by brettchallenger » Tue May 03, 2016 11:15 am

On French motorways there are long lines at the edge of the road with signs saying, "one line danger, two lines safe" i.e. you keep two lines between you and the vehicle in front. It works well. You can see it here, open the page and click on the video, it's in French but you will get the idea. ... stance.htm

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