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What is a safe following distance when driving?

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | Car Accidents |

Rear-end crashes can lead to all sorts of injuries for those in the front vehicle. The impact could throw their head forward with considerable force and damage the spine or spinal cord. If their brain hits the inside of their skull or their head hits the windshield (or, in the case of rear seat passengers, the back of the front seat), it could lead to brain damage.

Drivers can reduce the chance of these crashes by leaving more distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. Yet many people don’t know what a safe following distance is or choose to ignore it.

Counting to three is simple

Pick a point on the road ahead, such as a roadside sign or line across the road. Then watch until the rear of the vehicle in front of you clears that mark, and begin counting until the front of your vehicle reaches the same mark. You want to be at least three seconds behind them – saying one thousand, two thousand, three thousand out loud can help you do that.

Sometimes, you need to up the distance

Three seconds is the minimum safe following distance. Add a few seconds for anything that could reduce your ability to notice and react to the driver in front braking. So, if you are tired and know your reactions are not as sharp as usual, add some seconds. If fog makes it difficult to see them, add a few seconds. If the surface is slippery, meaning it will take you longer to brake, add some seconds.

Counting seconds is simpler than estimating a safe following distance in feet, and it could help you avoid rear-ending someone. Of course, you cannot control other drivers’ behavior, so someone could still hit you from behind, in which case you would need to learn how to claim compensation.


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