I was taking a deposition of the at-fault driver in a car accident case with serious injuries the other day and was surprised at this driver having no clue about what “following too close” means. As a personal injury lawyer in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area, I routinely see rear-end accidents where the person hit from behind gets hurt and the at-fault driver is charged by the police with following too close. The guy I was asking questions of indicated that he was rolling down the highway on Interstate 64 (I-64) on the Peninsula with only one care length between him and the vehicle in front of him. The speed limit in this area is 60 miles an hour. Where this care collision occurred four lanes dropped down to two lanes in relatively a short period of time and the driver was very familiar with this stretch of road.
I don’t know how this person got a driver’s license without realizing that you have to leave more than 10 feet between you and another vehicle going 60 miles an hour, particularly at a place like this area of the freeway in Newport News where there is often rapidly slowing traffic because of the bottleneck where the number of lanes is reduced and people must merge. The rule of thumb is that you should leave approximately one car length per 10 miles an hour between you and the car in front of you. This gives you enough reaction time and cushion to prevent running into the back of someone if the traffic suddenly comes to a stop. Given the great amount of traffic in southeastern Virginia, you never know when the traffic will suddenly slow as a result of a large truck going slow in the right-hand lane, an accident, or road repair/construction. Sometimes the traffic seems to stop for no reason at all. This driver’s negligence caused my client to have herniated discs in her neck and the possible need for a shoulder surgery. Please drive safely and don’t follow too close so that you don’t hurt someone else’s wife or mother in a rear-ender accident.