Many people are aware that maintaining distance from the car in front of you is important as it can prevent accidents. However, majority of the people aren’t aware of how much speed is needed or proper highway etiquette regarding distance. This can eventually lead to road rage, highway accidents, or at worst, highway fatalities.

Safe Following Distances

Following any vehicle closely is commonly known as tailgating. If you tailgate, chances are that you won’t be able to stop the car to avoid a collision. However, distance is not the only thing that matters.

Safe following distances vary depending on following factors:

  • Speed,
  • Driving conditions,
  • Type of vehicle you are driving.

What Is The Safe Following Distance?

For years, a safe following distance behind the vehicle in front of you was based on one car length (20 feet) for each 10 mph you were traveling.

In the late 1960s, this was changed to the two-second rule. Later, driving authorities found that the two-second rule was only adequate for speeds up to 35 mph.

Variable Following Distance was introduced, which has been extremely successful thus far:

  • Two-second following distance, 0-35 mph,

  • Three-second following distance, 36-60 mph,

  • Four-second following distance, 61+ mph.

It is important to note that the distance between vehicles needs to increase while a heavy vehicle is involved or if the conditions (road, weather, etc) are poor.

How To Ensure Safe Distance?

In order to ensure safe distance, you can use the time-lapse method.

Here’s how you do that:

  • Pick a stationary mark on the side of the road i.e. power or light pole.

  • When the rear of the car ahead passes the object, count the seconds (depending on what speed you’re driving).

  • If the front of your car passes the object before you finish counting, it means you don’t have enough distance in between, so drop back.

You can consult the following video to learn more about the right distances between vehicles: