Module 09: Avoiding Major Crashes-Following Distance

Module Objectives:

Develop a habit of driving with the proper following distance.

  Description Media



Explain that following too close is one of four main causes of major crashes. The other causes include fatigue, distracted driving and improper speed for conditions.


**Trainer: This is a critical proficiency and should be covered in detail and reinforced throughout training.


Inadequate following distance can lead to serious crashes, such as a rear-end crash.


Proper following distance works hand in hand with proper speed for conditions to reduce the risk of a major crash.






Ask trainee to pay attention to other professional drivers and their following distances at highway speeds. Note that it is often inadequate and a common bad habit of professional drivers.


Smith System teaches that following distance at speeds above 40 mph should be ONE SECOND FOR EVERY TEN FEET OF VEHICLE LENGTH, PLUS ONE SECOND. For a 70 foot vehicle, following distance should be 7 + 1, or 8 seconds. This is under ideal driving conditions.


Teach then demonstrate to trainee how to calculate proper following distance while driving: Count one thousand one….one thousand two…..etc. Start counting when the rear of the vehicle ahead passes a fixed reference point such as a bridge.


Have trainee demonstrate understanding about how to calculate proper following distance. Have him/her count out loud.












Have trainee log into driver portal and view Bendix Wingman alert system video.


Explain features of this system and that it’s designed to help trainee develop and maintain good habits regarding following distance.


Share any experiences, either good or a bad from which you learned, regarding following distance. Did maintaining adequate following distance help prevent a crash?





State that following distance is a high profile behavior. It can be the cause of a major crash, can result in a CSA violation, is monitored through the Bendix Wingman system or similar technology and is one of our Team Rules.


Challenge trainee to ALWAYS maintain a safe following distance. It’s the right thing to do!