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    What Is a Safe Following Distance?

    Learn how to keep a safe following distance while out on the road, how it translates into feet, and why it's so important.

    What Is a Safe Following Distance?

    Published: June 8, 2021

    You're driving down the road, look in your rear-view mirror, and realize the car behind you is way too close. If you need to stop abruptly, they'll surely slam into the back of you. This situation can be frustrating and dangerous which is why it's so important to give the cars around you enough space. But what is a safe following distance?

    What Is a Safe Following Distance While Driving?

    When you're driving behind another vehicle, you can determine a safe distance between cars with the three-second rule. That means that when a car passes any given point, you should be able to count to at least three (one Massachusetts, two Massachusetts, three Massachusetts) before you cross that same point.

    This is just the minimum safe distance between cars. More space is better when possible and is recommended when the road conditions aren't ideal. You'll also want to give yourself more space if you're driving a larger vehicle and/or towing a trailer, as it will take longer to stop.

    **You may hear of the two-second rule which is the same premise but one second less. We recommend three seconds when possible.

    How Many Feet Should You Stay Behind a Car?

    Now that you know the three-second rule, how does it translate into the number of feet you should leave between you and the car in front of you?

    Start with the number of feet in a mile; 5,280. You'll want to multiply your speed by 5,280. So if you are traveling at 65 MPH, you would multiple 5280*65 and find out you drive 343,200 feet in an hour.

    Next, divide the feet per hour by the number of minutes in an hour (60). In this case, 343,200/60 gives you 5,720 feet per minute.

    Then, you'll want to divide the feet per minute by the number of seconds in a minute (60). In this case, 5,720/60 is about 95 feet.

    Lastly, take the number of feet per second and multiply it by three to get your safe following distance. In this case, 95*3 tells you that a safe distance between cars driving 65 MPH is 285 feet.

    This formula can help you to figure out a safe driving distance in terms of feet based on your speed. Of course, you'll want to figure this out before getting behind the wheel.

    Why Is a Safe Following Distance Important?

    Car accidents that involve one vehicle rear-ending another are one of the most common types of accidents and also one of the most dangerous. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that almost 30% of all traffic accidents that result in a serious injury are caused by rear-end collisions.

    You can help avoid hitting someone else or being hit by following the three-second rule whenever possible. If someone is too close behind you, it's best to let them pass so they aren't too close to stop in time, when necessary.

    Defensive Driving Techniques Can Keep You Safe on the Road

    When heading out on the road, it's important to be aware of what can go wrong. Then, you can take proactive steps to prevent accidents. For example, by knowing rear-end collisions are common and dangerous, you can ensure you keep a safe following distance and that others aren't too close behind you.

    If you'd like to learn more strategies that can improve your driving skills (and possibly get you an insurance discount), check out our online driver's ed course!

    Get Started with your Online Drivers Ed Course Today

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    Source : driversed.com

    Rule of Seconds: A Safe Following Distance on the Highway

    If you believe that you or a loved one was hurt in a crash because a driver failed to leave a safe following distance, you should seek help from an experienced car accident attorney with delay.

    The Rule of Seconds: A Safe Following Distance on the Highway

    Westwood Smithers III | October 25, 2018 | Car Accidents

    Following too closely behind another vehicle, or tailgating is one of the most common causes of car accidents in Virginia and across the country. Rear-end accidents often lead to serious injuries, including whiplash, even when they occur at a slow speed. For this reason, drivers should always keep a safe distance between their cars and the vehicles ahead of them in traffic.

    As a driver, you may wonder what constitutes a “safe distance.” One place to look for an answer is Va. Code § 46.2-816. The statute prohibits drivers from following another vehicle “more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time.” The term, “reasonable and prudent” is a vague one and subject to debate. However, the statute clearly indicates that speed, traffic, and road conditions are factors that a driver should consider.

    How to Measure a Safe Following Distance

    Many drivers follow the “three-second rule.” In other words, you should keep three seconds’ worth of space between your car and the car in front of you in order to maintain a safe following distance.

    Many other organizations promote the three-second rule, including:

    National Safety Council (NSC)

    AAA Auto Club AARP

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

    According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), drivers should actually leave a distance between two-to-four seconds behind the car in front, depending on their speed. For instance, if you are traveling at a speed of less than 35 mph, you should be safe with a two-second cushion. If your speed increases to 35-to-45 mph, a three-second following distance should be safe, while a four-second distance would apply if you were going 46 to 70 mph.

    To measure your distance, the DMV suggests that you glance at the car ahead of you as it passes a fixed object like a sign, fence, corner, or overpass.  Then, you should count the seconds it takes you to pass the same object. Using the basic “one-one thousand” counting method should work.

    If you reach the mark before you have counted off two, three, or four seconds – again, depending on your speed – then you are following too closely. You should slow down and increase your following distance.

    Three Seconds May Not Be Enough

    The NSC states that “three seconds is the minimum; five seconds is even better.” It also advises increasing following distance “significantly” in bad weather. When hauling a boat, trailer, or camper, the NSC says to add one second to your following distance for every 10 feet of additional length.

    “The added weight of the trailer requires a longer stopping distance for your vehicle,” the NSC says.

    Stopping distance is a key to what constitutes a safe following distance. Heavier vehicles require more time and space to stop. The opposite applies, as well. Lighter vehicles stop more quickly. So, if you are following a motorcycle or smaller car, you should leave more space in case the vehicle suddenly comes to a halt or quickly reduces speed in order to drive around an object on the road.

    Stopping Distance and a Tractor-Trailer in the Rearview Mirror

    The longer stopping distance required by a larger vehicle is of concern when the vehicle is behind you, barreling down the road and too close for comfort. When you cannot change lanes to get out of the path of an 18-wheeler, bus, RV, or other large vehicles, you should use the three-second rule and speed up to set a safe space.

    Remember: The space between your vehicle and a large vehicle behind you on a highway should be four seconds at speeds of 46-70 mph, plus one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length. In Virginia, the maximum length allowed for tractor-trailers is 65 feet in total. So, the safe distance between a passenger vehicle and the largest commercial trucks on the highway is roughly 10 or 11 seconds. The safety cushion needed for an RV, bus, or smaller truck behind you may be shorter, but a 10-second gap would not hurt.

    Hit by a Tailgating Driver? Our Virginia Car Accident Lawyers Can Help You

    Accidents happen when truckers or other drivers are in a hurry and speed, or when they drive while distracted, fatigued, or otherwise careless and reckless. Their negligence can cause them to follow too closely and cause a rear-end collision. If you believe that you or a loved one was hurt in a car crash because a driver failed to leave a safe following distance, you should seek help from an experienced Richmond car accident attorney with delay. Contact Marks & Harrison today we have some of the best personal injury lawyers in Richmond through one of our 10 offices located throughout Virginia and receive a free consultation about your case.

    Westwood Smithers III

    J. Westwood Smithers III works in Marks & Harrison's Chesterfield and Hopewell offices, focusing his practice on the representation of personal injury victims and their families. He earned his undergraduate degree from Randolph-Macon College and his law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law. West is a member of the American Association for Justice, Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and Richmond Bar Association.

    Source : www.marksandharrison.com

    Proactive driving

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    Driver's Guide to operation, safety and licensing: cars and light trucks

    Proactive driving

    On this page:

    Scan all around your vehicleWatch for potential hazardsHave a space cushionPlan aheadCollision avoidanceMaintain your following time and distanceCellular phones and other distractionsTable of contents

    Proactive driving is driving with the aim to anticipate possible hazards and take action to reduce, minimize or avoid danger before it can occur.

    Never assume other drivers are always going to drive carefully or respond correctly at all times. Anticipating what might happen can help you to avoid collisions caused by the driving errors of others. This chapter describes the skills and techniques you can use to drive proactively.

    Scan all around your vehicle

    Most of your attention should be given to looking forward and scanning for hazards that are developing ahead of you. When you are driving in an urban area, look at least 12 to 15 seconds ahead of your vehicle. This is about 1 to 1 1/2 blocks. When you are driving in rural areas, look at least 20 to 25 seconds ahead of your vehicle. This is your visual lead time, which provides you with time to respond to hazards ahead of you.

    Check behind you by glancing in your rear view mirrors every eight to 12 seconds (about every block in an urban area). Glance in your rear view mirrors when you anticipate slowing or stopping. Be aware of vehicles on both sides and in your blind spots. Do not forget to glance at your speedometer to check your speed.

    Watch for potential hazards

    Proactive driving involves a continuous process of watching your surroundings and thinking about whether hazards are developing, and then taking action to reduce risks. There are 2 types of hazards that should be recognized. These are fixed (those that do not change) and variable (those that change).

    Fixed hazards are permanent conditions and situations along the roadway, including:

    restricted vision areas such as curves, hills and hidden driveways

    intersections merging roadways

    Variable hazards change through the day, including:

    school children and other pedestrians

    left-turning vehicles

    icy road surfaces

    "stale" green lights

    emergency vehicles

    Be prepared to take action to avoid a problem as the situation changes. Expect the unexpected and always plan an escape route.

    Have a space cushion

    Leave enough space between yourself and the vehicle ahead, behind and to either side to stop safely or steer around a possible hazard. If someone is following too closely, and if it is safe, reduce your speed just enough to encourage them to pass. If the person does not pass, create a wider space cushion between you and the vehicle ahead.

    When stopping behind another vehicle in traffic, leave enough space so that you could move your vehicle into another lane without having to reverse. The extra space reduces the risk of hitting the vehicle ahead if you are hit from behind. This also allows you to move out of the way of a vehicle that may be skidding or slipping on ice behind you.

    Plan ahead

    Plan your travel route before you set out, and keep it in mind as you drive. Be sure you are in the proper lane well in advance of your exit or turning location. This will help you avoid making quick and dangerous lane changes. If you miss your exit or turn, continue on to the next exit or intersection. Never drive your vehicle in reverse on a roadway to return to a missed exit or turn. Use your signal lights to let other drivers know what you intend to do.

    Collision avoidance

    Watch the road ahead and stay alert. Watch for any possible problems. If you must turn sharply to avoid something in your lane, stay on your side of the yellow line if possible.

    You can learn more about proactive driving and avoiding a collision by taking an approved driver education course. These courses, called Defensive Driving Courses, are available throughout the province from licensed driver training schools and authorized agencies.

    Maintain your following time and distance

    You should drive a minimum of 2 seconds behind the vehicle ahead. This is for normal road and weather conditions. When conditions are less than ideal, increase your following distance.

    To know if you are 2 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you, when it passes a fixed object like a road marking or a shadow on the roadway, start counting. Count one-thousand-and-one, one thousand-and-two. If the front of your vehicle reaches the object before you are finished counting, you are following too closely. Reduce your speed and count once more. The 2-second rule works at any speed.

    An exception to this rule is for drivers of large vehicles, such as motor homes. It is recommended that you use a minimum 4-second following distance.

    Keep a minimum two second-distance when following another vehicle.

    Cellular phones and other distractions

    Do not use a cellular phone or other electronic devices while driving. Using a cellular phone to make or receive a call, or to receive or send a text message is a distraction that can take your attention away from the demanding task of driving. This applies to hands-free cellular telephones as well. If you want to make or receive a call, or receive or send a text message, stop in a safe and legal place.

    Source : www.alberta.ca

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