What is a Safe Following Distance?

Car crashes occur every year and this is very dangerous. Every time you get on the road in a car, you’re at risk for a car accident. While you can’t control what other drivers do, you can control what you do. You must take the necessary precautions while you’re driving to minimize the likelihood of you getting in a car accident. As part of these precautions, you should try enforcing a safe following distance between you and the car in front of you so that you can be safe. Here’s more information about safe following distances and other information that will keep you safe when you’re on the road.

What is a Safe Following Distance

Since a safe following distance is between you and the car in front of you, you can infer that there’s a specific distance you should keep. Usually, people recommend two seconds, three seconds, or a few cars length between you and the other cars. It has been suggested that you should keep one car length of safety distance for every 10 miles per hour speed you take well you’re driving. For example, this means that if you’re driving 60 miles per hour you should have at least six car lengths between you and the car in front of you.

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You can reduce the risk of a car accident by keeping a safe following distance between you and the car in front of you because you’ll have more time to stop if you need to press your brakes abruptly. Closely following a vehicle is the fifth leading cause of car collisions according to the US Department of Public Safety. Avoiding a rear-end crash is easy if you have a safe following distance between you and the car in front of you. Here’s more information about safe following distances and rules that you can follow while you’re on the road.

What is Stopping Distance

Stopping distance is more than just the distance it takes for you to stop. The stopping distance includes the thinking distance and the braking distance in it’s equation. The thinking distance is the distance that your car travels after you’ve seen the danger. This is the distance before you begin to apply the brakes. The braking distance is the distance that the car travels before it comes to a stop after the brakes have been applied.

When it comes to thinking distance, it’s roughly one foot for everyone mile-per-hour you’re traveling. This means if you’re traveling 20 miles per hour then your thinking distance is probably around 20 feet. The braking distance increases with speed so that means the faster you’re going the higher the braking distances.

Stopping distance is the addition of the thinking distance and braking distance together. if you’re traveling 20 miles per hour then your stopping distance will be around 20 feet, but if you’re traveling 40 miles per hour it will take around 80 feet to come to a complete stop. The average stopping distances should be times 2 in the rain and times 10 for ice conditions. This works well in theory and these equations function is to give you an idea of the distance that you need to place between you and the car in front of you, but in real life you won’t have all this time to measure the distance that you need.

There are other factors that affect your stopping distance that you can’t quantify in a number. For example their speed and gradient of the road. Then you have to consider the weather and your tires. Your brakes and your ability as a driver are also very important. Because you can’t really quantify the road’s gradient or the inflation of your tires, you can’t really factor this into the stopping distance equation. This is why you have to use your eye and instinct to choose a safe following distance.

Reaction and Braking Distance

You know what reaction and braking distances are but there are a lot of other things that you should take into consideration. No one has a perfect reaction so there’s always an amount of time between the moment when you see something happened and when you actually hit the brakes. This doesn’t say anything negative about you as a driver, but you do have to keep in mind that just because you see something happen, it doesn’t you immediately are able to stop your car.

The reaction and braking distance is also dependent on a lot of factors of you as a driver. Age and experience can affect this distance oh, but for most people the reaction time is in the range of 0.2 seconds to 2 entire seconds. If you’re traveling slowly, the distance you cover in this time will be very small but if you’re driving fast, like when you’re on the highway, then the distance your car can travel in reaction time is considerable.

Your speed also affects how fast you can come to a stop. And your braking distance is usually proportional to your speed. If you double your speed then you double your braking distance, for example, and you want to keep this in mind when you’re driving fast. For example, if you travel 20 feet before you decide to react to what you see up ahead, you’ll hit the brakes, but you might travel another 20 feet before your car comes to a complete stop. This makes your stopping distance 40 feet, so you’ll need at least 40 feet to not get into a collision.

Choosing Stopping Distance

There are a lot of different ways to work out your stopping distance but you don’t always have the time to do these calculations. Most of the time you can hit the brakes as soon as you can react. Also, the stopping distance only takes into consideration the time that your car needs to come to a complete stop. You also need to take into account that the car ahead of you is also moving.

If you need numbers, then you can use the speed and multiply it by 2 to give you the stopping distance. You should add 0.5 to what you’re multiplying by for every extra 10 miles per hour speed. For example, if you’re doing 20 miles per hour then you can multiply it by 2 to give you a stopping distance of 40 feet. If you’re traveling 40 miles per hour then you’ll want to add 2 to 2 so that you’re multiplying 40 times 4. This may sound complicated but you can estimate how much feet you need to have in front of you. These numbers are just to quantify the space that you need while you’re driving.

Two Second Rule

If you have a hard time dealing in feet or miles per hour, you can use a quicker and easier way to calculate a safe following distance. You can use the two second rule. The two second rule basically says that you should stay two seconds behind the car in front of you no matter what speed you’re traveling at. This is a more general measurement and it’s definitely something that you can do while you’re driving without thinking much.

This two second rule works regardless of your speed because the faster you travel, the greater the distance you can cover in the two seconds. If your speed increases, the distance between you and the car ahead also needs to increase. This makes the two second gap that you need consistently enforced as you’re driving.

This rule also accounts for the fact that the car in front of you will need a certain distance to come to a complete stop in this gives you extra time. This is an easy concept to keep in mind while you’re driving and you could definitely consistently keep two seconds behind the car in front of you. While there’s no guarantee that the two seconds will completely allow you to avoid collision, it will give you two seconds to take evasive action.

One of the easiest ways to enforce the two second rule while you’re driving is to choose a reference point. This point is what you can use to judge the distance between you and the car in front of you. The car in front of you should pass that reference point and you should pass it two seconds later. If you pass this point of reference in less than 2 seconds, you’re too close and you should slow down a little. If you’re a beginner driver then this is an easier method to enforce than the stopping distance which makes you deal with a lot more concrete numbers.

Three Second Rule

Some people believe that the two second rule is not enough and you should have by three seconds instead. This gives you an extra second of distance on top of the two seconds to give you more of a safety pocket. There are times when this rule isn’t even enough and you should consider the weather factors around you to decide if you need to extend the time.

For example, in rainy weather you are advised to double the distance and use a 6 second rule. This means you need 6 seconds to pass the chosen point of reference. If you’re in heavy rain, snow, or icy conditions you should leave 9 seconds between you and the car in front of you and you should also be driving much slower than you would otherwise.

Always use the rules given to you to adapt to your driving conditions. You should always ensure that you have plenty of time to stop if something unexpected happens but you also need to keep in mind your comfort level when it comes to driving on the road.

Why is Tailgating Bad

Tailgating is when you drive too close to the car in front of you and this is dangerous for both the person doing the tailgating and the car in front of them. The likelihood that you will do this is affected by many factors, but you should keep in mind the definition of tailgating whenever you’re on the road and we’re in a rush. If you leave less than the recommended 2 or 3 seconds, you can risk driving into the back of the car if they stopped suddenly.

The person in front of you can also feel as if you’re being very aggressive. If you’re following them too closely can make them feel pressured or even anxious. You should consider the times when someone tailgated you and think about how they made you feel. Anxious or flushed your drivers are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that endanger you and everyone in the car is around you.

Most of the time drivers react rashly to the tailgaters because you’re putting pressure on them. They will often react in the same way people do when you invade their personal space. Some people hit their brakes suddenly or flash their brake lights and this puts everyone involved in the situation in danger. Road rage, more dangerous driving and even a confrontation can be likely to occur if this continues.

Drive the safest that you can at all times. Consider how sad it would be for your loved ones if you were hurt in an accident. One of the best ways to avoid an accident is by using a safe following distance. Although you don’t have to use the methods suggested, you should keep far enough from the car to have time to stop and evade.