Following distances are important because some people don’t realize that they’re tailgating. They simply assume that they’re driving safely. But then something unexpected happens, like a child running into the street, and the car ahead of them has to stop suddenly. In an instant, they realize that they don’t have nearly enough space, but they can’t avoid a rear-end accident.
If you’re worried about doing this, you’re probably wondering what a proper following distance looks like. The truth is that you need to leave roughly three seconds between vehicles. Any time that you think you may be getting too close, just count off seconds before passing a stationary object on the side of the road. No matter how fast you’re going, as long as you’re counting off that amount of time, it should give you enough distance to be able to react.
Why do you need three seconds?
Part of the reason that you need a full three seconds is that it can take about a second and a half simply to push the brake pedal. Studies have found that it takes drivers roughly 3/4 of a second to perceive that they need to hit the brakes. It then takes another 3/4 of a second to move their foot and do so.
This means that the car hasn’t even started slowing down until half of that following distance has been used. If a driver is any closer, they may not have time to stop before they cause an accident.
Unfortunately, you can take this to heart and drive safely, but you can still be injured in an accident someone else causes. Make sure you know what legal options you have to seek compensation.