An Accident Waiting to Happen

Following A Friend Can Be Following Disaster

You might have found yourself in a situation driving your own car and keeping pace with another car right in front of you. You got yourself in a sort of caravan agreement because you don’t know exactly the way you’re headed. Hate getting lost, too? Did you know that it’s an unsafe driving behavior? There’s a court case involving a driver who got seriously hurt in an accident following another car in a similar situation.

A recent study came out of the University of Arizona, inspired by the court case, to show evidence that this risky behavior can result in accidents. There’s scientific proof to show that drivers who follow another car to a destination are more likely to drive dangerously. Those who initiated the study thought many people have the intuition that the behavior can be dangerous, yet there exist no research to back it.

So the team of researchers decided to test this intuition by recruiting students who have valid driver’s licenses to participate in a driving simulation. First, they were asked to drive around a simulated city just to get a picture of their basic driving behavior. Then, this was compared to how they drove when guided by a navigation system. Next, they did the ‘follow a friend in the car in front’ test. All tests assessed general speed, distance to the car in front and the time it took to move lanes. Hazards were used to see if driving behaviour changed under different driving scenarios.

Here are the results. Those ‘following a friend’ drove faster and more erratically, closer to the car in front and made quicker lane changes. Also, the drivers were more likely to cut in front of a pedestrian crossing a road and speed through traffic lights turning red.

It was observed that the leading cars are not breaking any laws, but those following behind were not just copying risky behavior from risky drivers, but were influenced by the traffic around them. Drivers often feel a social pressure to keep pace with other traffic and run traffic lights when other vehicles do the same. By using a computerized driving simulation, the study was able to eliminate the contagious effect, where driver behaviour can be influenced by the traffic around them.

The researchers concluded the test with some useful advice. It is a lot better and safer to know the address of the destination, or use a map or a navigation device to get to the destination without incident.

Arriving Safe and Sound in Seattle

Yes, it is far safer to know the way yourself rather than following behind someone else’s car. Avoid accidents and near-accidents waiting to happen if you can. Greenwood Auto Shop is at your service in Seattle when such things happen.