Safe Following Distance

Topic 24903 | Page 1

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Phil 's Comment
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I earned my CDL January 2nd but have been sick with one thing or another since then. One of the things impressed upon me by my instructor while driving on I-95 in Philly was to maintain safe following distance. Although the rule of thumb calls for less he always told me to maintain 8 seconds of distance. Well, driving on the PA turnpike I notice truckers no more than 2 seconds or less than the length of a trailer behind cars and other tractor trailers. This appears to be common. Is it?


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


Operating While Intoxicated

Marc Lee's Comment
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Well, driving on the PA turnpike I notice truckers no more than 2 seconds or less than the length of a trailer behind cars and other tractor trailers. This appears to be common. Is it?

I see it a lot around Milwaukee and N. IL. Particularly scary in rush hour traffic.

Noticed one truck from a small company where I met the owner at the DMV. Finally got an interview there. Never got the documents I was promised (Drivers Manual and new pay schedule) and never saw evidence of the calls the recruiter said she made to me. Finally I got an email saying their insurance company told her they had recently hired enough newly-licensed drivers so they couldn't hire another (me).

Of course I don't know if the speeding driver tailgating another vehicle in rush hour traffic in an area where a lane was about to end (often creating a bottleneck) was one of the recently hired newbies or an experienced veteran driver.

But I am pretty sure either their trucks are ungoverned or the governor is set really high!


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.


Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Bruce K.'s Comment
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Yes the 7 or 8 second following distance is incredibly important. Maintain it at all costs, even if it slows you down.

You can find numerous instances of those who ignored this paid the price.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


Operating While Intoxicated

Keith A.'s Comment
member avatar

Seven or eight seconds is your minimum in good conditions. You'll want to double it for rain & snow, and triple icondition.

Also yes there are a lot of drivers who miiiiiight follow by two seconds, if you're lucky. Its absolutely terrifying to watch them run up that close on people.

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
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There are many unsafe drivers out there. When you start driving you will want that space cushion. If I end up with to much traffic around me, I will slow down and let them all move away from me. You will learn in training and through experience how important that space is. It gives you time to react.

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