Common advice given to drivers is that they should always maintain a following distance of three seconds – at minimum. This way, they can avoid tailgating and react to events ahead of them on the road.
But many drivers will count out three seconds and realize that it creates a much bigger gap between vehicles than they realized. They may have been inadvertently tailgating for years. They think that three seconds of space is too much. Why is it actually necessary?
How fast a driver reacts
The issue is that people don’t react instantly or immediately to things on the road, even when they think that they do.
Instead, it takes about 1.5 seconds for someone to start pushing the brakes. The first half of that time is when they perceive the need to slow the vehicle down, and the second half is when they take their foot off of the gas and move it to the brake pedal. Both of those actions feel very fast, but they take about 0.75 seconds each.
So if someone only had a following distance of two seconds, rather than three, they would then only have half a second to stop their car. It’s simply not enough time, in many scenarios. Having a minimum of three seconds gives people the actual amount of space that they need based on their reaction times. And even that assumes the driver has standard reaction times and isn’t fatigued, impaired or distracted.
Unfortunately, many drivers continue to tailgate. Those who have been injured in rear-end accidents caused by these drivers must know how to seek financial compensation. This can help to cover lost wages, medical bills and much more.