Only a fool breaks two second rule

According to World Health Organisation statistics, there were 1,792 road accident fatalities in the UK in 2016 compared to 3,477 in France. Another comparison shows 27 road deaths per million of population in the UK in 2017 compared with 53 per million in France.

France is five times larger than the UK with approximately the same population. UK roads are more congested and road surfaces are superior in France. UK minor roads are well worn with lumps and potholes.

Why then has France nearly twice as many road deaths?

The answer is simple – French motorists drive too close to the car in front. French drivers ignore the rules at roundabouts and jump in front of cars already on the roundabout.

Anybody in the UK who has been on an advanced driving course (or on a course to avoid speeding points) has had this rhyme hammered in to them by the police instructors: Only a fool breaks the two-second rule.

When driving, you observe the car in front as it passes a fixed object (tree, road sign etc) and count two seconds. You should then be passing the fixed point yourself. The rule works at any speed to make sure you leave a safe gap. On wet or greasy roads you should double this distance.

If you leave a two-second gap in France, you will soon find a French driver rear-pushing to shift you out of the way.

So how can these statistics be rectified? It will need a massive re-educational programme and higher penalties for tailgating.

I doubt it can ever happen.

David Hardy, by email

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