Great Driving Habits to Practice #3

HABIT # four. Keep good separation from other vehicles.

Keep two seconds away from the vehicle in front. To do this, when the vehicle ahead passes some fixed point like a post, a patch of paint on the road or a parked car, count “one thousand and one, one thousand and two”, that’s two seconds. If you reach that point before you finish your count, you are too close.

You may need three seconds if the road is wet, the surface is slippery or the traffic is travelling at speeds below 40 km/ph. It is interesting that we need more time at slow speeds than at high speeds because reaction is a greater part of stopping at slow traffic speeds, than it is at highway speeds.

Stopping may be considered in three parts: Perception (the driver’s recognition of the need to brake), Reaction (getting the foot to the brake), and Braking (the travel of the vehicle with the brakes on until it stops). Perception has the greatest variance. An alert driver may perceive and react in less than a third of a second, while a distracted driver may take multiple seconds to perceive danger. At 100 k/h the ‘perception + reaction’ probably represents about 25% of the total stopping distance, at 40 k/h about 50% and at 20 k/h about 70%.

Influence the gap behind by signalling in plenty of time, flashing your brake lights, slowing gradually and making manoeuvres thoughtfully. Notice dangerous traffic situations developing and change your time of arrival at the situation. This often means slowing down for a moment then moving through the situation quickly. Sometimes it may mean change to a different lane (road position) or stopping well away from danger.

HABIT # five. Be able to stop in the distance you can see ahead.

You may calculate this by using the time formula. At 60 km/ph it takes about three seconds to stop, at 100 km/ph about four seconds.

Approach hillcrests, bends and other situation where your seeing distance is limited, judge what would be a safe speed and approach at that speed. When you reach the most dangerous point (just before your view opens up) look at the furthermost point that you can see and count the seconds (3.5 seconds at 80 km/ph) if you pass the point by the time you finish the count, you may have been too fast to stop. This gives you feedback to develop your judgement.

Make these “Class Driving” habits part of your driving style. When these five habits are part of your normal driving style, you will keep safe and have the best control during an emergency.


When you are faced with an emergency, you don’t have time to think. Your body is plunged into the “fight or flight syndrome”, you get pumped full of adrenaline and you react in line with your well-practised habits. You can’t do something different in an emergency.

These five habits form your defensive driving armour. Let’s see how the first three work in an emergency. For example, imagine you are driving at 100 km/ph along a country road when suddenly there is an emergency. Perhaps a kangaroo is in front of you or two vehicles abreast are coming at you over the hillcrest.

Your good habits will instinctively burst into action:

  1. Lock your left foot on the footrest (or the floor) and lean back in your seat.
  2. Look away from the danger, to where you are going to put your vehicle.
    1. Brake, progressively tightening to the point of tyre squeal, release and re-brake if there is wheel “lockup”.


  1. Off the brake and point the vehicle towards the solution.
  2. Shift gears after the first escape, when the vehicle is under control.
  3. Accelerate away from danger.

If you are looking for Automatic or Manual Driving Lessons in the Mirrabooka , Midland or Cannington licensing centre areas give Compass Driving School a call on 0417 712 223