What Is the Correct Following Distance When Driving?
November 9th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
There seem to be a lot of impatient drivers on the roads these days. But if you want to avoid an automobile collision, don’t be a tailgater! Bearing down on other drivers and following them too closely makes it more likely that you will get in a collision.
The purpose of maintaining a safe following distance is pretty obvious: to give you plenty of time to apply the brakes and bring your car to a stop before rear-ending the car in front of you.
Following Distance Rules
So what is a safe following distance? The rule of thumb is to maintain at least a 3-second following distance. However, the required stopping distance depends on your speed and road conditions.
3-second stopping distance:
- You are driving 35 to 55 mph in good weather, on a safe road, and with minimal traffic.
4-second stopping distance:
- You are driving between 55 mph and 75 mph on wet roads and/or congested traffic.
7- or 8-second stopping distance:
- You are driving on an ice- or snow-covered road surface.
What about a safe following distance in car lengths? If you want to measure it in feet, a good rule of thumb is that you want to keep a distance of about 16 car lengths in front of you to give you enough time and space to come to an unexpected stop. For a semi-truck, you’ll want to stay back even farther: 20 cars, or roughly 300 feet.
Rear-end collisions are the #1 most common type of accident. Unfortunately, most of these accidents are usually the result of human error – distracted driving, speeding, and tailgating – and are preventable.
Whatever you take away from the post, please remember the 3-second rule when driving. Whether you are being tailgated or are the tailgater, it is dangerous for both parties. If the driver in the leading car suddenly slams on the brakes, the car behind him must also slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid a collision. Often, a collision is unavoidable in that situation. The damage could be a minor fender bender, a dented or mangled bumper, or something more serious. When drivers do not leave enough distance between their car and the vehicle in front of them, it can be a catalyst for a chain-reaction that causes a large-scale accident involving several cars.
If you are on a multi-lane highway and the driver behind you is breathing down your neck, you can switch lanes or try to get the other driver to switch lanes. Make sure to hit your brakes gently, because if you do it too abruptly or aggressively, the driver behind you might not respond nicely. Before you go there, try removing your foot from the accelerator and, hopefully, as you gradually slow down, the driver will switch lanes.
Remember, follow the 3-second rule and always be aware of the car in front of you. Use your rearview mirror to periodically keep an eye on the car behind you. Again, for a semi-truck, keep more distance than you would with a car. To avoid a collision, you do not need to calculate a mathematical equation; just use common sense and give your fellow drivers some space, just like you would at the grocery store!
Occasionally you can do all the right things and still get in an accident because of a careless or reckless driver. If it happens to you, first make sure everyone is okay. If there’s damage to your car, call the police and wait for an officer to arrive and write up an official report. Next, bring your car to your friends at your local Fix Auto USA body shop and let our team of highly trained and certified technicians make any needed repairs. We are open for business and ready to serve you.
To schedule a service appointment, please contact us online or call us today at 800.INFO.FIX.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Paramount, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing Paramount and the greater Los Angeles region.
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