Tailgating is all-too-common on the roads today. Not only does it give you little reaction time when the car in front brakes, the car also blocks your view of the road ahead. If the vehicle in front is a truck, then your lack of visibility is compounded. Tailgating a motorcyclist threatens the person’s life. Motorcyclists can fall off their bikes on slippery pavement or when they hit a pothole. Should this happen to a motorcyclist just a few feet in front of you, you won’t have time to avoid hitting the person.

The three-second rule for following distances, is currently recommended in California. Long ago, there was a different rule that stated you should allow one car length for every 10 mph of speed. It’s no longer recommended because car lengths vary and estimating multiple car lengths is difficult.

Following distances are more about time than actual distance. It comes down to allowing yourself enough time to react and avoid a car accident. The faster you travel, the more following distance required to get the same amount of reaction time.

The Three-Second Rule

For good pavement conditions, you should allow at least three seconds of time between yourself and the car in front. When the car passes a point such as a shadow across the road or a sign, count off the number of seconds required for the front of your car to reach this point. It should be three seconds or longer. Adjust your distance accordingly. Count off the seconds as “one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.”

When to Increase Your Following Distance beyond 3 Seconds

  • When the pavement is wet or slippery. Reduced traction with the road increases your braking distance.
  • When you’re following a motorcycle. A life is at stake when a motorcyclist falls, and you want to be sure you can avoid hitting the person.
  • When you’re following a vehicle larger than yours. Large vehicles such as trucks will block your view of the road ahead. Situational awareness prevents you from being taken by surprise. A lack of awareness of the road ahead is a common reason for the chain-reaction car accident.

If a reckless driver such as a tailgater injured you in an accident, seek legal advice from experienced car accident lawyers. Contact us today at Hogan Injury.

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