A driver’s following distance is very important. It creates the space they need to react and slow the car down to avoid a collision. This is why tailgating, or following too closely, is illegal. When the driver is too close, they cut that reaction time down significantly, making them more likely to crash.
But how much of a following distance should you use? Some tailgaters are oblivious, not understanding the danger that they are in. To avoid this, always try to keep three seconds of distance between vehicles. This is easy to count off simply by finding a stationary object, watching when the other car passes that object, and then counting the time until your own car reaches that same point. You should do this periodically to make sure that you are keeping the right amount of distance.
Why is three seconds necessary?
Some drivers tailgate because they think that 3 seconds feels too far and they don’t believe they need that much time. But the reality is that reducing the gap can be very problematic.
What drivers should remember is that it usually takes about 0.75 seconds just for their brain to register that it’s time to hit the brakes or stop the car. It takes another 0.75 seconds to move their foot and begin pushing on the brakes. So if their following distance is only one and a half or two seconds, the driver may crash even as they try to stop the car. Three seconds is the minimum if they’re going to have enough reaction time.
Unfortunately, drivers do cause accidents every day, often through tailgating. Those who have been injured need to know how to seek financial compensation.