By Tim Kowols
Motorists in Door and Kewaunee counties could have their first wintry drive of the season when snow hits the area this weekend. Snow is expected to hit the area as soon as Thursday evening and be intermittent through early Saturday morning. According to the National Weather Service, Sister Bay could get between three and four inches of snow while Sturgeon Bay and Kewaunee could get between two and three inches. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says slippery roads are just another reason to keep some distance between you and other vehicles on the road while driving.
Joski recommends motorists stay between 300 and 500 feet away from others on roadways while driving depending on the weight of the vehicle, weather conditions, and rate of speed. You can read the rest of Sheriff Matt Joski’s article on the dangers of tailgating online with this story.
FROM SHERIFF JOSKI
This topic is actually closely related to a previous topic as both of these actions are forms of communication. The use of or failure to properly use your high beams indicates a person’s consideration for other drivers, and a person’s need to “Tailgate” indicates a high degree of aggressiveness and impatience.
First let’s establish the statutory language on this issue. State Statute 346.14(1) Auto Following Too Closely” covers this behavior. It states: The operator of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway. The fine for this offense is over $200.00 and a 4 point assessment on your license.
While the statute does not give a specific following distance for passenger vehicles, it does state state that for trucks with a gross weight of 10,000 lbs or more they must maintain a following distance of 500 feet.
So the question is: What is too close? This depends on the traveling speed of both vehicles, as well as the conditions of both the road and the weather. In a city or village at low speeds the distance may be less than when traveling on rural roads where the speeds are greater. The primary concern is related to those rural roads and highways. For these, it is prudent to keep the distance of approx. 300 feet between your vehicle and the vehicle you are following. What is significant about 300 feet? It is the distance between utility poles along the road and a great way to gauge your distance at any given moment.
The reason following too closely is of a concern is that it shows absolute disregard for your safety as well as those you are following. If you consider the reaction time needed when a deer or other object presents itself in your lane of travel, you can imagine the results when that reaction time is eliminated due to following too closely. While the vehicle you are following may be able to see, process and respond, all you will have time to do is create an accident which could lead to not only your own injury but that of your passengers and other motorists.
Many drivers think that if they hug the vehicle in front of them it will somehow force that vehicle to speed up. I am here to tell you that is not the case. Following too Closely is a form of non verbal communication which does nothing more than create not only a dangerous environment but communicate to that driver in front of you that you are nothing more than a rude inconsiderate person who is only focused on your needs.
You can avoid the need to follow too closely by planning ahead and leaving plenty of time for your intended travels. This is especially important as we transition into the winter season, not only because the road conditions will be less forgiving but also because those road conditions can change at a moment’s notice and a change of just a few degrees in the temperature can be the difference between stopping and sliding.
If you are the victim of an inconsiderate driver following too closely, please feel free to call law enforcement. Most times these impatient rude drivers follow up their tailgating with a passing maneuver which will give you a great opportunity to get their license plate and allow us to “Educate” them. If you are able to call law enforcement in a safe manner, please do so and if you are willing to give a statement it will give us the ability to heighten that educational experience for them through a citation. For those keeping track our current to date car deer accidents stand at 327. Last year at this time it was 352. That’s down a bit so keep up the careful driving!