While there is the general consensus that accidents will happen because humans make mistakes, there is also the implied understanding that accidents are avoidable. One of the most common types of accident is a rear-end collision.
Regardless of how fast the events unfold in front of you, a rear-end collision is typically the result of following too closely. While you may know the three-second rule, it takes time and practice to apply it consistently.
Here’s what you should know about the rule for maintaining a safe following distance and how you can apply it.
Why three seconds?
As you consider the three-second rule, you should remember that three seconds is a minimum guideline intended for cars driving in clear weather. On average, it takes about one-and-a-half seconds for you to react to a situation on the road and another one-and-a-half seconds to brake, adding up to the three-second guideline.
Keep in mind that if it is raining or you are driving a large vehicle, you will need to add more time.
Measuring three seconds
As you are driving, consider your vehicle and the weather to determine how much stopping distance you should have. If you are driving a larger vehicle like an SUV, you should add an extra second. This is your baseline. You will also need to add another second if it is raining.
To measure the time between your vehicle and the one in front of you, choose a stationary object like a tree or a sign. When the car in front of you passes the object, start counting (1-1,000; 2-1,000; 3-1,000) until you reach the same spot. If there is not enough time between you and the car in front of you, you should slow down and increase the distance.
Being able to recognize and respond to emergencies on the road is an essential part of avoiding accidents. Using the three-second rule is one way you can ensure you have enough distance to react to an emergency on the road.