If you can remember back to when you learned to drive, your instructor likely told you that you always need to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Other driver’s instructors will have told them that too. Yet a quick look around the roads will show that many drivers are not doing this.
Why is this? It’s likely because most drivers do not know what a safe distance is. Can you remember how far back your driver said you needed to be? Nowadays road safety experts do not talk in terms of distance but time. They find it more effective.
Leaving a three-second gap between you and the car in front is the minimum you just adhere to. If conditions are bad underfoot, such as loose gravel, wet roads or ice, you should increase it. The same applies if visibility is poor or if you are not feeling particularly alert.
Why is using time more effective?
Every driver can count to three easily. Many would struggle to estimate a given distance accurately, say 150 feet or 300 feet. Not only this, but the distance back you need to stay depends on your speed, and using seconds adjusts for that. Three seconds will be a lot further back at 50 mph than at 20 mph, which is crucial as you will take far longer to stop if the driver in front hits their brakes when you are traveling at 50 than at 20.
If a driver rear-ends you and injures you, then they were almost certainly too close. Learning how to get compensation can prevent you from footing the bill for someone else’s mistake.