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How far back should you stay from the vehicle in front?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Personal Injury

Rear-end collisions are usually a sign that a driver was following the vehicle in front too closely. While that might not be the only factor in the crash, it may be the one that ultimately prevents them from avoiding a collision.

The closer you are to another driver, the less time you have to react to changes. Thus, understanding what constitutes a safe following distance is crucial to safe driving.

You should stay at least 3 seconds back

Three seconds is the absolute minimum following distance you should maintain. How do you measure this? You simply count to three. Pick a point on the road ahead and count to three once the back of the car in front passes it. You should not reach that same point any faster than three seconds. If you do, pick another point, take your foot off the gas a little and try again.

Sometimes, you need to stay more than 3 seconds back

Three seconds is based on ideal conditions. You should increase it when conditions are less than ideal. For instance, if there is water or ice on the surface or if they have just laid fresh gravel on the road. You should also raise the distance when you are not at your best. For instance, if you are tired, distracted or have had a glass of wine.

Maintaining an appropriate following distance is only half the battle. You cannot control the actions of those behind you, who may be following you too closely. If they crash into you, it’s important to know you have legal options.