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How to Maintain a Safe Following Distance

Rear-end collisions are at an all-time high. While these accidents are preventable, some drivers are willing to admit that they don’t always pay attention to the distance between them and other drivers. A few drivers are even willing to admit that they aren’t sure how far their driving distance should be. How far you drive behind a vehicle may change based on a few different factors, such as weather and speed. Below are a few tips for determining the distance between you and other vehicles. 

While you’re driving, take note of the vehicle in front of you. Watch when the driver in front of you has passed a memorable landmark, sign, or pole. Countdown how long it takes for you also to reach that same spot. One way to count is in “one-one thousand”; however, it’s ok to count “Mississippi’s.” You should be a minimum of two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you with decent road and driving conditions. 

On average, it takes about 1.5 seconds to respond to an unexpected hazard, assuming your complete attention is on the road. Therefore, a minimum of at least two seconds will give you time to maneuver your vehicle if there is a problem. Four seconds is a farther distance but gives you a reasonable wiggle room for any emergencies.  While four seconds may seem extreme, a few extra seconds is a pretty good trade-off for securing you and your passengers’ safety. 

In poor weather conditions, breaking is more complicated. Fog, rain, and nighttime driving increases the likelihood of an accident. These scenarios demand more of your focus and response time. If the weather isn’t stable, a minimum of at least four seconds should be the ideal. Ten seconds should be the minimum for challenging conditions such as snow. If a driver tries to fill the space by cutting you off, allow them to do that. 

The destination isn’t the priority; your safety is. Our vehicles already travel faster than our ancestors ever could, and that should be enough to make us appreciative. As car fanatics, we get a thrill out of faster moving vehicles. For now, let’s save the racing up to the professionals. Planning, staying focused, and keeping an appropriate distance from other cars are excellent practices to start. 

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