What is a Safe Driving Distance?
If you’ve ever been accused of tailgating, you might be surprised to learn what constitutes a safe driving distance. Tailgating is a significant cause of avoidable accidents around the country. Interestingly, studies have shown that SUVs and sports cars are guilty of tailgating almost twice as often as economy cars and family vehicles. Drivers in Colorado, followed by those in Georgia, exhibit the highest rates of tailgating. Safe driving distances vary based on the type of vehicle and road conditions. Here’s a general guideline to keep in mind next time you’re in a hurry to get to your destination.
Driving Distance in Ideal Conditions
On a sunny day, when the roads are clear, the general guideline is to follow the “3-second rule.” The 3-second rule applies to traffic moving along at 55 miles per hour and means you are at least three seconds away from the vehicle driving ahead of you. To help gauge whether or not you are following this rule, choose a stationary object on the road (such as a road sign). Count the seconds between when the car in front of you passes it and when you pass it. Three seconds is the equivalent of about 243 feet, or the length of 16 cars.
Exceptions to the 3-Second rule
When weather conditions are less than ideal (such as at night or in the rain), be on the safe side and leave additional space. Some vehicles require different driving distances because they cannot travel as fast as other cars on the road. For instance, farm tractors typically max out at a top speed of 25 miles per hour. If you get stuck behind one, your rate of travel will significantly go down. You can leave about 50 feet of space (four car lengths) until you’re able to pass. Give extra room to semi-trucks and emergency vehicles. Because large trucks carry heavy loads, they require more braking time and have the potential to drop debris along the way. Leave about 300 feet or 20 car lengths between your car and a large truck. Never speed behind emergency vehicles. Although they may be racing along, you should stay back about 500 feet, or 33 car lengths, to keep a safe distance.
by Nick Climan – Content Creator at Half Full Marketing
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