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Why 3 seconds is necessary for a following distance

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Car Accidents |

Drivers need to be sure that they always keep three seconds of space between vehicles. Many drivers accidentally tailgate simply because they don’t know what a safe following distance looks like. This is especially true with young drivers, who cause accidents due to inexperience.  

Thankfully, it’s easy to judge your following distance simply by counting off seconds after the car ahead of you passes a stationary object. It should always take your vehicle at least three seconds to reach that object. Many drivers accidentally tailgate because a shorter following distance feels safe when traffic is moving smoothly. But if traffic slows down unexpectedly, they just do not have enough physical distance to react in time. 

What your reaction time really looks like 

Road safety experts note that reaction times are often not what people assume. Drivers believe they can react immediately if they need to stop the car, but there is actually a delay of roughly 1.5 seconds – even for skilled, attentive drivers. 

First off, the driver has to recognize the need to stop the car – they must notice traffic slowing ahead of them, for instance. Second, the driver has to move their foot and push the brake pedal. Both of these events take about three-quarters of a second. Overall, the car doesn’t even start slowing down for one and a half seconds. 

Now imagine that the rear driver has negligently left a following distance of just two seconds. If they have to stop in an emergency, they aren’t going to have enough time to do it. Additionally, reaction times can be altered further by things like driver distraction. 

If you get injured in an accident caused by a driver who was tailgating, then it’s very important for you to know exactly what legal options you have to seek financial compensation.