If you’ve ever felt like the car behind you was driving dangerously close to your back bumper, you know how unnerving it can be. As you drive, you’re constantly aware that they are so close that it feels like you’re about to be involved in an accident.
In a situation like this, you may start wondering what a safe following distance really looks like. Are they too close, or are you just paranoid?
Generally speaking, if it feels like they’re too close, they probably are. An actual following distance is a lot farther than many people realize. This can lead to some oblivious drivers tailgating when they have no idea that it’s an unsafe activity.
Every car needs three seconds
The best way to determine if cars are far enough apart is to leave a three-second gap between each vehicle. Every driver on the road should constantly pay attention to the cars ahead of them to make sure that they are always three seconds behind.
This can change the physical distance by a dramatic amount. If you’re driving 75 miles an hour on the interstate, for instance, you could cover quite a large distance in three seconds. If you’re driving 20 miles an hour downtown in the city, though, that three seconds may cover a much shorter distance. The benefit of using seconds as the measuring stick is that they adjust with the speed so that cars are always far enough apart that a driver should be able to stop in time.
Of course, many drivers do not count off the seconds or may not even know how far back they should be. If you get hit and injured by one of these drivers, you need to know how to seek compensation.