The police can pull you over for tailgating or following too closely. You can also cause an accident if something unexpected happens in front of you and you do not have enough space to stop. But what is a good following distance? How far back should you stay to avoid these issues?
A minimum of three seconds
Generally speaking, driving instructors tell students that the absolute minimum distance they should keep between their car and the next is three seconds. You can simply pick an object on the side of the road, like a speed limit sign, and then wait for the front car to pass it. When they do, count off seconds until you pass it. Doing this periodically can help you get a sense of what three seconds looks like so that you won’t have to do it every time.
Keep in mind that the three-second distance changes with speed. It’s not the same on a city street as it is on the interstate. Plus, you may want to add even more distance, depending on conditions. For instance, if it’s snowing or raining and the road is wet, you need more space to stop. If it’s foggy out, you need more distance to react. Always adjust accordingly.
What if you get hit?
Keeping the right following distance stops you from hitting someone else, but what if another driver follows too closely and hits you? You could suffer serious injuries in such an accident. Make sure you are well aware of your legal rights to seek out proper financial compensation.