Well the problem is this: If you maintain sufficient distance between yourself and the car ahead, then you need to watch out for morons who will dart between the two cars. If you follow too closely, a sudden manouever by him will probably put you in a really bad accident.
True. But keeping a safe distance is always the safer choice. If you are at the more or less the same speed as the car in front, it's likely the moron who overtook you and squeezed in between is as likely to overtake the car you were following. Morons who dart in between to cross the road or join the road are a different case. Need to be careful of the danger they can cause.
Originally Posted by greenhorn
have done this at nights. I keep a sufficient distance so that the top edge of my low beam falls behind his vehicle. Because there is a vehicle in front, you dont have to worry too much about vehicles coming from the other side
Done this many times at night, especially on hill driving. Helps if you are in a smaller car than the one in front. Also helps in spoting potholes, unmarked speed-breakers, etc. Though I do tend to keep a greater distance at night than in day.
Following someone blindly is not always a good pratcice. While it may work in 99% of the time, there may be times something unexpected happen and you may not be in a position to react as your moves are inluenced by the leading driver rather then what is happenning on the road.
I agree, it helps in the night to an extent, if you manage to keep a good safe distance.
On a highway, defenitely its a good practise. I would like to call the vehicle ahead as my 'Pilot' vehicle. It became a blessing, when I did a long drive last week. If you can keep a decent distance and tail the pilot car, it gives a totally tension-free, relaxed driving, as every action is signaled by the pilot. In my case, I must have avoided jumping atleast 6 speed breakers due to the guy ahead. Even one itself would have scraped the underbody so badly.
in my opinion and as mentioned, it is the safest option to follow on a highway with a 4 sec lag especially at nights
i remember doing bangalore - chennai - bangalore with return in the same day, i used to leave chennai around 7ish after my work is done with and reach bangalore by 1, and i did it twice on my opel astra and i did realise that my lights are way too weak. Managed to find a beamer right in front and tailed him with a 4 sec lag. the drive proved safe and quick. came into bangalore and upped the wattage of my lamps.
While such driving certainly helps sometimes but there are multimple problems associated with such driving behaviour. Over time, one starts to slacken in concentration while tailing due to the over/confidence that builds up over the years. Secondly, if you are in a small car tailing a bigger vehicle, say suv at high speeds then you are unable to get a clear view of thee road ahead of the suv which can create quite a situation for you if you happen to be unattentive at the same time. If the suv suddenly switches lanes say, to avoid a cow and you are unattentive, given your speed of say 100kph plus, your reaction time reduces drastically.
If you are tailing at night, thats even more dangerous and probably the worst mistake of your driving life.
The risk increases many times if you are driving on a 2 laned highway.
This kind of driving certainly helps you drive relaxed and comfortably, but you still ought to be fully attentive and in full control at all times. During a long drive, tailing can sometimes be a boon in disguise or sometimes dangerous.
Safe driving means, you ought to be able to see ahead of the vehicle in front of you, so you can prevent falling prey to his mistakes and correct errors of other road users, that includes pedestrians, 2 wheelers and others.
I have just realised that I used to do it at night and in the rains, in the UK and while maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, it can help you maintain the speed of the traffic.
However, in India, I do not do that primarily because the vehicles are driven at different speeds, even in the same lane. There are no wavefronts, no equals, no democracy on our roads. So in theory, it is not possible to tail vehicles very easily and there could be a lot of surprises on our roads - divider demolishing cows, donkeys of all kinds, hungry school children running home, senior citizens taking a bit of sunshine, et.al. - watching out for which, while at the same time watching the vehicle in front can be more stressful.
But if some of you are comfortable tailing a car at a safe distance, then you should do it IMO. Does not seem to me, any more dangerous than driving on a single carriage way. You need to watch out, as much.
Last edited by BurningHeart : 11th September 2009 at 21:05.
Keeping a safe distance, I meant atleast a 50 meters, which is decent enough for unexpected surprises too. You will find lot of morons who will tail someone with a gap of 2 or 3 meters. Thats utterly foolishness and the most stupid thing to do on a highway ! I found 3 cars doing that to me at different places, didnt feel comfortable, so gave way, slowed down and let them pass.
while I avoid driving in the nights at all costs, I do follow this technique only at nights.
I have a comfort zone of 60-80kmph in the night. so, I will follow a vehicle going in that speed-range only. if the vehicle is going at 100, I won't follow that. If the vehicle is going at below 60, I'll pass that. But I do tend to follow vehicles in my comfort zone at nights.
it doesn't have to be one single 'pilot' for the whole drive. if the 'pilot' chooses to speed up or slow down, I fire my current pilot and look for another pilot.
Also agree about keeping the headlight distance plus a little bit more between the myself and the pilot in front of me.
This reminds me when I was an inexperienced driver. I was driving on PA turnpike and it was slushy and snowing heavily. It was difficult to drive at normal speed. But once by chance I got behind a 18wheeler it was heaven, It was ploughing snow and slush creating a railways like path. I think I followed it for at least one hour going around 70 miles/hr. Now I think how lucky I was that nothing bad happened, anyway.
Secondly, if you are in a small car tailing a bigger vehicle, say suv at high speeds then you are unable to get a clear view of thee road ahead of the suv which can create quite a situation for you if you happen to be unattentive at the same time.
I agree with you. I felt the same when i followed a bolero but it was better while following the dzire since i had the entire road view. The prior reason to do this was 'cos my scorpio has many scratches and the our typical high beam drivers made it very difficult for me to drive in constant speed.
Also, this was only till trichy. once we touched the 2 lane State highway, i couldnt do it confidently.
I would say it will be a safe practice to tail a car at a safe distance if the speeds are low like 30-50 kmph like the kind you drive when on pot-hole ridden highways.At higher speeds it is always preferable to have a clear and FAR view ahead.
At slower speeds the pilot car will help you brake on time before potholes,craters and other such abominations that you find on Indian roads.If you are going fast avoid following other vehicles as you will never know what's coming up ahead.
Last edited by sumeethaldankar : 11th September 2009 at 22:37.
Driving behing a good driver has its advantages. The problem is finding a good smooth driver. As almost everyone has pointed out take care not to get too close to the vehicle in front. DO NOT TAILGATE!
I do this sometimes when I feel like a break. I however avoid drivers who are erratic or swing too much. If you catch up with a vehicle moving neatly and well and tuck in behind him at a safe distance, most seasoned drivers will guess your intentions and will gladly pilot you safely. Sometimes they might wish the favour be returned and will change positions so that you are in the lead while he follows. This 'buddy' system is particularly useful at nights to reduce the strain caused by oncoming headlights.