Space is your friend (your foe if there's too little of it). It may be classified into types.
Committed space: This is an area in front of your car that you are going to occupy, whether you want to or not. In the extreme, it's the emergency stopping distance. It's usually more due to reaction time, which varies with your level of attention. Safety relies on nothing ever occupying this committed space. The faster you travel, obviously, the larger this space is.
Threatened space: It's wrong to assume that empty space in front is available to use. If any other vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian could occupy it, it is space that's threatened. Assuming that it's freely available is ignoring the need to assess likely threats and avoid them. Who in the traffic flow might want to suddenly occupy the space? What circumstances would make it likely? Your standard three second space (five seconds on the highway) is nearly always threatened in some way.
Protected space: Sometimes, another vehicle that's blocking your view has assessed the traffic and moves off in such a way that it blocks possible conflicts for you. This is protected space that is usually safe to use if you get going before it disappears. It relies on the correct decision being made by the other driver. If you don't want to trust the other driver, don't use protected space.
Wasted space: This is space that's available, but you've chosen not to use it. It will be in front and growing if you are slower than everyone else. More often, it is behind. By placing excess rear space in front, it can be used to protect you. Unused road width or an empty and safely available lane on your right as you pass something stopped on the road shoulder, or pass entering traffic, is wasted. Provide space by briefly occupying the right lane, rather than suddenly moving over when a conflict occurs. Timely proactive use of available space minimises risk.
Free space: This is space that's not likely to become occupied by anything else (rare in town) and may be assumed to remain available, until conditions change. This is space that will allow you to travel at a higher speed without increased crash risk. An awareness of surface conditions, crossroads, farm gates, farm machinery, and compromised visibility due to bends, crests, dips, shadow or unlit dark vehicles is needed. Respect speed limits.
Actively managing space in response to trends in traffic is more useful than just holding a specified space in front. Anticipating and observing increases or decreases in space everywhere will allow safe space management.
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