Tell us how to gauge distance, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: In regard to Monday's column, 'Street Smarts: In absence of signs, when are U-turns allowed?,' what is 200 feet comparable to? Giving information to drivers in a manner that is relevant to the situation would be useful. How many folks know off the top of their heads how far 200 feet is? Perhaps saying 200 feet is about 13 car lengths away from another vehicle in operation would give a better visual. I understand the DMV handbook uses the term 200 feet as if it means something. Annonymous A: When I learned to drive all those years ago, my driving instructor taught me that the distance between two utility poles is 50 feet, thus I can use those to calculate the distances in which I'm to turn on my blinker before making a turn or lane change, as well as before making a U-turn without getting struck by an incoming vehicle. Current driving instructors teach similar ways to gauge distance. Meanwhile, there are resources online to help drivers get a visual of distance. For example, I typed "How far is 200 feet?" in the search box of my browser and found several ways to determine that distance.
  • Half a block or about 5 houses;
  • Visualize 2/3 the length of a football field;
  • It takes four seconds to travel 200 feet when traveling at 35 mph.
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