Transportation and Vehicle Safety/Is this my fault?

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Question
I was driving in the right hand lane on a two lane one way. There were more cars in the left lane and it was moving lowly so I was passing cars. The last car in the left lane cut into the right and came up behind me. There was a cross walk ahead and the long line of cars in the left lane came to a stop. I saw the people in the cross walk pass and saw that there was no one else going across the street so I easily passed the line of cars in the left lane. The person behind me was tailing me though and didn't realize that there were parked cars just passed the cross walk. So I essily made it without even speeding or driving dangerously, but I could tell with the way she sped up on to my tail that she was going to fast. She didn't have time like it did to cut in and went barrelling into a building and light post. I feel bad, but was I responsible in any way? I ended up going back to the scene and tried giving other witnesses info, but they said they weren't sticking around and that she was being taken care of so after a while I ended up leaving because I wasn't sure what else to do. Should I have done more?

Answer
Hi Chad,

No, you weren't at fault in any way.  It is each driver's responsibility to make sure they proceed safely through intersections and along busy streets.  From your description, the woman behind you was following too closely to allow for any reaction time in case the situation changed - which it did.

If you were traveling at about 40MPH, that's about 60 feet per second.  The average person needs about 2 seconds to recognize a threat and react, and the vehicle needs about 1-2 seconds to respond - for a total of 3-4 seconds of lead time.  At 60 feet per second, there should be a safe space between cars of at least 180-240 feet.  If she were following closer than that, then she sacrificed the room she needed to react to danger and suffered the consequences of her own decision.

We all make our own choices out there, every time we drive.  Choose wisely.

Best,

Mike

Transportation and Vehicle Safety

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Michael Mercadante

Expertise

Questions on traffic safety, safe performance and operation of a motor vehicle in traffic, about driving with special needs, learning/behavioral/developmental disabilities, understanding vehicle laws, understanding safety equipment on vehicles, defensive and precision driving techniques, driver education and instruction and driver exam preparation.

Experience

Owner and sole driving instructor for Modern Driver Institute. Eight years in traffic safety research on contracts for NHTSA, FMCSA, AAA, MDOT and PennDOT. More than 1,000 hours as a professional driving instructor. Licensed driving instructor in the state of PA. Certified Defensive Driving Instructor for the National Safety Council. Precision driving for Hollywood and independent films. Expertise in virtual-reality driving simulators and teaching students with developmental/intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries and more.

Organizations
member, Teen Safe Driving Coalition; member, PA Safe Kids coalition; service provider, PA Bureau of Autism Services; service provider, PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Publications
Perkasie News-Herald WonkaVision Magazine eHow.com MadeMan.com Philadelphia Zoo website Driver Training Services website Yahoo! Associated Content

Education/Credentials
Licensed driving instructor, PA Department of Education Certified Defensive Driving Instructor, National Safety Council B.A. in American History (cum laude), Temple University (earned 2007) M.S. in Psychology, specialization in Educational Psychology (2015) Ph.D in Psychology, specialization in Educational Psychology (expected 2019)

Awards and Honors
Scientific Paper of the Year (2003), Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine.

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