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Maintaining a safe following distance while driving

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | car accidents

Keeping a safe following distance while driving is one of the essential safety measures for drivers. It’s recommended that drivers observe the three-second rule. This means if a lead vehicle passes an object, such as a road sign or a tree, it should take the following vehicle three seconds to pass the same object.

The following driver doesn’t need to check their watch now and then. At a steady rate, they can say, “ONE (thousand), TWO (thousand), THREE (thousand).” If they pass the object before they finish counting, the driver should slow down, as this may prove they are following too closely.

Here is why drivers should maintain a safe following distance:

To respond safely

Anything can happen on the road. Traffic can slow down suddenly, animals/pedestrians may be crossing and obstacles, such as broken-down vehicles, tree branches or rocks, may be on the road. Accordingly, a lead driver may slow down unexpectedly. With a safe following distance, a following driver will have enough time to react safely. 

When should a driver increase the distance?

While the three-second rule is recommended,  a following driver may need to increase it in some circumstances. Firstly, drivers driving faster, such as those on rural interstate highways, should increase their safe distance. Speed plays an integral part in a vehicle’s braking distance.

Drivers on roads with harsh conditions, such as those covered by snow or ice or those slippery or wet due to rain, should also increase their safe following distance because such conditions can increase their vehicles’ braking distances.

The type of vehicle is another factor that may call for an increase in the safe following distance. Trucks take longer to come to a full stop than smaller regular vehicles. Thus, truck drivers should increase their safe following distance.

If a driver fails to maintain a safe following distance, crashing into you, get legal help to fight for your rights.