Following Too Closely on I-81

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

AUGUSTA COUNTY -- Two cars, three tractor-trailers and a crash that could have been avoided.

It was a chain reaction, caused by drivers following too closely to the one ahead of them. It happened just south of Staunton. Three of the drivers involved are charged with following too closely, something police and drivers alike call a serious highway hazard.

"Vehicles were running about 70 miles an hour," said Trooper Joe O'Gorek of Virginia State Police. "The first vehicle realized it kind of late and slammed on its brakes.... chain reaction. Everybody was following about the same distance."

"Following too closely," "tailgating"...whatever you call it, it is a highway hazard that police say is way too common, especially on the interstate.

Travoy Hollie drives a truck for C.R. England. He is passing through the valley on his way to Hershey, Pa. Hollie says tailgating makes driving a lot harder.

"When it's congested like it is today out here on 81, it's a big challenge," Hollie said.

Trooper O'Gorek said a good rule of thumb is to leave 10 feet in front of you for every 10 miles an hour you are driving. But that does not always work out.

"A lot of time on the interstate system, that doesn't happen," O'Gorek said, "for the fact that if you allow that distance you're going to have vehicles pulling in and out the whole time."

That, Hollie said, is the biggest problem for him, driving a truck.

"I think they just don't understand what big trucks can do - the damage they can do and how hard it is to stop those trucks," he said.

Just how hard? Hollie says it takes about 300 feet - three football fields - to stop his truck when it's going 60 miles per hour. Hollie said that means it is his job to pay a lot of attention to his mirrors.

"When i see them coming close, I kind of anticipate that they're going to jump in front of me, so I'm already slowing down," he said.

Trooper O'Gorek said accidents like this happen mostly on the interstate and at intersections. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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