Fighting For Your Rights

The importance of a safe following distance

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

A safe following distance is generally defined as having at least three seconds between vehicles. This automatically adjusts the physical distance depending on the speed of those vehicles. In other words, three seconds will cover much more physical distance at 70 miles an hour on the interstate than it would 25 miles an hour in the city.

But if you count off seconds and watch the drivers around you, you’ll find that many people do not leave a long enough following distance. If you leave a proper gap, they may even try to merge into it. These other drivers believe that it’s safe enough to be a bit closer to the vehicles around them. But why isn’t this true?

Reaction times aren’t immediate

The issue is that your reaction may feel immediate, but it isn’t. If something happens on the road and you need to stop the car, simply coming to that realization and processing the information around you generally takes about three-quarters of a second. Then you still have to move your foot and press on the brakes before the car starts slowing down, and that takes another three-quarters of a second. You need a full 1.5 seconds before you actually start slowing down at all.

Therefore, if someone has a following distance that is under three seconds, they simply don’t have enough time or space to react to changes in conditions. They can drive safely enough if everything goes as expected, but anything sudden and unexpected almost guarantees a rear-end accident. Such a driver simply does not have space to react properly.

Even if you drive safely, you could be injured by another negligent driver. Be sure you know what legal options you have to seek financial compensation.