When traffic suddenly stops in front of you, it can come as a surprise. Maybe someone’s pet ran into the road and the driver ahead slammed on their brakes. Or maybe you came over a hill and found out that there was a traffic jam on the other side.
In this type of situation, your following distance is very important. If it is long enough, you should be able to stop in time or otherwise take evasive action to avoid a crash. But if it is too short, you may not have any time to react and a rear-end accident would be unavoidable. So what should the proper following distance be?
Three seconds, at minimum
In short, the following distance should be at least three seconds long. Forget about trying to measure the physical space, such as keeping 100 yards between vehicles. It’s too difficult to do for most drivers, and you need to calculate a different amount of physical space depending on your speed.
But if you calculate the amount of time between vehicles, then the speed is automatically adjusted. There will be more space if you are traveling at 70 miles an hour, when keeping three seconds between cars, than if you are traveling at 25 miles an hour.
The reason that three seconds is the minimum is that it usually takes about a second and a half for a driver to realize that they need to hit the brakes and then move their foot over to the pedal to do so. A shorter following distance means that they may start breaking far too late.
Unfortunately, other drivers are still going to make this mistake, even if you don’t. If you’ve been injured by their negligent actions, you need to know how to seek financial compensation.