There are a few things to keep in mind before diving into all of these opinions. One thing to clarify is that setting the following distance at a higher number means that a car is further away from the car in front of it. Really low numbers mean a car is right on the tail of the car in front. There are lots of variables to take into account here. The Tesla owners who gave their input on the reddit forum likely live in a diverse set of regions. Someone who lives in an urban location will probably be more accustomed to following cars more closely than an individual who lives out in the country.
The optimal following distance setting
This is the main theme of the discussion and there are many angles to this issue. One reddit user said their optimal following distance is 7 because it prevents people from cutting them off. “Good luck with a 7 in LA traffic”, said another reddit user. A third person said they like to alternate between 3 and 4. A reply to this comment said that settings below 4 allow for no reaction time.
The takeaway from these answers
The takeaway here is that 7 is a good following distance on a rural highway with few cars. Putting your vehicle on 2 or 3 might be a good idea in tight traffic. The important thing to note is that a long following distance in tight traffic may disrupt the flow of traffic and draw the ire of the cars sitting behind you.
Something else to note is traffic conditions can change in an instant so the driver should be able to get a feel for what an appropriate following distance is based on the amount of traffic.
Lastly, some drivers have better reaction times than others. This means that drivers with slow reaction times should try to avoid tailgating cars. The reality is that you may not be able to avoid a situation on the road that requires quick thinking. The best advice is to put the car on a normal setting and not expect autopilot to be invincible.
Daniel Cappo reports Tesla developments at Torque News. He has had a passion for cars ever since age five when his grandparents let him drive their old golf cart around their property in Upstate NY. He has attended numerous auto shows, and even got the chance to drive a Ferrari California on the track. Ever since Tesla opened up a dealership at his local mall, he's been an avid follower of their cars and technology. Dan has a B.S. in Public Communication from U Vermont. Follow Daniel on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily Tesla News.