Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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When should you increase the safe following distance?

Drivers observe traffic rules to maintain road safety, including the safe following distance. You need to follow the 3-second rule between your vehicle and the one ahead. The easiest way to calculate this is using a fixed object on the road, such as a traffic sign or road mark. When the car passes the object, it should take you three seconds to pass it.  

However, in some circumstances, you may need to increase this distance. These include:

Bad weather conditions

Heavy rain, snow, fog and other bad weather conditions can reduce visibility. You may notice potential problems when it’s late. Thus, it will be best to increase the safe following distance to have adequate time to respond to hazards. 

Heavy traffic

You should increase the safe following distance when there is heavy traffic. With many vehicles starting and stopping, the possibility of an accident may increase. However, with sufficient space, you can safely stop when the car ahead brakes suddenly. 

Driving around a large vehicle

Following a large truck or bus too closely can block your vision. You need more space to see around it. 

You should also increase the safe following distance when a truck is behind you. Trucks need more distance to come to a complete stop. It can be dangerous to hit your brakes, perhaps due to traffic, and a truck is only three seconds behind.

Driving around a drunk or distracted driver

If you suspect the driver behind or ahead is drunk or distracted, you should increase the following distance. Examples of signs that may inform you of this are swerving, tailgating, running the red light, frequent braking and sudden acceleration and deceleration.  

If you increase the safe following distance in the above-discussed instances, but another driver still involves you in an accident, you should get legal help to protect your rights.  

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