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Road safety: Six out of 10 drivers ignore safety distances while driving

13:00 27/12/2023

Approximately six out of 10 drivers fail to respect recommended safety distances on Belgium’s roads, which contributes to the number of deaths and serious injuries.

That’s the findings of a study by road safety institute Vias that was carried out 4 million cars and 400,000 lorries and buses on the country’s motorways, report RTBF and Belga.

It said 58% of cars maintained a gap of less than two seconds from the vehicle in front. Meanwhile, a third of trucks (30%) drove less than 50 meters from the vehicle in front of them: this percentage was almost twice as high (31%) on weekdays as on weekends (19%).

The study was carried out during times of fluid driving on the roads when there weren’t any traffic jams.

For car drivers, the pattern was more frequently observed on the middle lane (64%) and the left lane (65%) than on the right lane (49%), pointed out Vias.

One in three fatal accidents a rear-end collision

On motorways, one in three accidents resulting in deaths or injuries is a rear-end collision. One in five accidents is a chain collision, which means it involves at least three vehicles.

Around 70% of rear-end collisions are due to an insufficient safety distance. Each year, more than 1,000 accidents are due to failure to respect the safety distance on the motorway, said Vias.

The Belgian highway code currently stipulates that the driver must maintain a 'sufficient' safety distance between their vehicle and the one in front.

“Even if the meaning of the word “sufficient” is not specified, we can reasonably assume that it is equivalent to the distance travelled by the vehicle in two seconds,” it notes.

In France, the two-second rule is mentioned in the law and this solution has also been recommended for inclusion in the new version of the highway code in Belgium, which should come into force at the end of 2025, Vias added.

Photo: ©Vias institute

Written by The Bulletin