EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Wess Winn, community services officer and crime prevention coordinator with the Waxahachie Police Department to write a weekly column in an effort to answer many of the law enforcement-related questions posed by our readers. Here’s this week’s column.

My heart is heavy this morning for the people of Newtown, Conn., as I am sure many of yours is the same. My wife and three kids are all at the same school and I cannot imagine what I would feel.  Today and in days to come, please pray for these families and when you learn their names, pray for them using their name.   

Also remember the first responders who are dealing with this tragedy and having to investigate it. Their lives will forever be changed.  

Sometimes there is no explanation for things that happen in this world but being raised in a Christian home and answering a personal call to Christian ministry I do know, albeit tough sometimes, Christ IS and WILL remain in control until he calls us home.  

Please pray for these families for days to come.  I cannot imagine what they are feeling.

Today’s question: How close should I follow behind someone when driving down the road?

Transportation Code 545.062 (Following Distance) states “if you are following another vehicle, maintain an assured clear distance between the two vehicles so that, considering the speed of the vehicles, traffic, and the conditions of the highway, the operator can safely stop without colliding with the preceding vehicle or veering into another vehicle, object, or person on or near the highway.”

How many times have we looked up and cannot see the front bumper of the vehicle behind us because it is so close to our rear bumper?  

A good rule of thumb is what we learned in driver’s education; two to three seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you.  

Another good rule is at least one car length between you and the vehicle in front of you for every 10mphs you are traveling.  

These rules are only applicable if the driving conditions are excellent, as Coach Jim Miller explained when I took his driver’s education course some years back.

I do not understand what make people drive follow so closely. Sometimes it is drivers just being rude and other times it is inattention.  T

here are a lot of studies on vehicle braking times, which I have studied.  Remember this; if you are traveling down the interstate at 70 mph, you are passing over 100 feet of pavement every second. So once you realize something is going on in front of you and you need to stop (which on the average takes about 1.5 seconds) you have already covered half of a football field.  

The average stopping distance for a car traveling at 70mph, including reaction time is right at 399ft.  The test was performed on dry pavement and reaction distance feet is 154 and braking distance feet is 245.  

Remember this the next time you are right up on someone’s bumper. These numbers only pertain to cars, not trucks pulling a trailer or semi trucks pulling a trailer because the distance goes up considerably as the vehicle load gets heavier.

If you happen to be the in a vehicle, which is being followed to closely you first need to see if you can legally get over.

 If you are unable to get over and there is a vehicle in front of you, double the distance between you and the vehicle you are following.  

Do not “brake-check” the vehicle following you because you never know what might end up happening.

Drive Safe!

If you have a Police Beat question for Officer Wess Winn, he may be reached by e-mail at wwinn@waxahachiepd.org or call 972-937-9940, Ext. 212. Look for your questions to be answered here in the Waxahachie Daily Light every Sunday or listen to officer Winn’s show on KBEC Radio AM 1390 at 9 a.m. every Monday.