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

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Elkhorn, WI

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Why drivers need a 3-second following distance

A safe following distance is commonly defined as three seconds. This is the minimum distance that drivers should try to observe. If they are any closer, they are technically tailgating, and they increase the odds that they will be involved in an accident.

But there are drivers who believe that three seconds is too long. They often feel like they are fairly good drivers, so they can just pay attention and they’ll be able to avoid any unexpected hazards, even if they’re fairly close to the next car. Why isn’t this true?

There’s always a delay

Driving ability or skill doesn’t actually matter very much. The issue here is that there is going to be a delay between when a driver encounters an unexpected hazard and when they start to hit the brakes. This delay is about a second and a half long.

You can divide that 1.5 seconds into two actions. For the first 0.75 of a second, the driver is just cognitively processing the fact that they need to hit the brakes. They are noticing changes in the traffic around them. For the second 0.75 of a second, the driver is moving their foot to the brake pedal and pressing it down.

People who believe they can stop without a proper following distance often think that these actions take place instantaneously. But they do create a delay, as shown above, and a driver who is only a second and a half back would almost inevitably be involved in a crash.

Have you suffered injuries?

Even if you try not to tailgate other drivers, you could still be injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. If you are, then you need to know how to seek financial compensation for medical bills and related costs.

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