Should You Be Following the 3-Second Rule While Driving?
December 13th, 2021|
Driving a car presents many possible risks; 38,800 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the US in 2019. Most of these accidents were caused by driver error.
This means that by following a few rules while driving, you can decrease your risk of harming yourself and others. One rule that’s simple to follow and helps reduce your chances of rear-ending someone else’s vehicle is the 3-second rule.
What Is the 3-Second Rule?
Many crashes are caused by drivers following too closely to the vehicle in front. Without sufficient space between vehicles, they cannot stop in time if the car in front brakes suddenly.
The 3-second rule advises you to keep a distance of three car lengths between you and the car in front. This has also been described as the distance you could travel in three seconds at an average speed. Maintaining this space between cars is a simple and proven way to avoid rear-end collisions.
Measuring the Distance
Calculating the distance you need between the car in front and your vehicle is relatively easy. Pick a stationary object by the road, such as a tree or traffic sign; once the car in front of you reaches that object, begin counting and note how long it takes you to pass the same object. If you reach the object before you have slowly counted to three, you are too close to the vehicle ahead of you.
This method will give you an idea of a safe following distance and leaves plenty of time to stop if the car in front suddenly brakes.
Driving too close to another vehicle is dangerous and causes many avoidable accidents. It is known as tailgating and is considered an aggressive type of driving that puts both vehicles’ occupants at much greater risk of a rear-end crash.
Are There People Who Should Be Given More Space?
The California Driver Handbook advises drivers to increase their following distances and give more space to drivers who present greater potential danger. These drivers and people include:
- Drivers whose view of you is obstructed
- Drivers who may be forced into your lane to avoid an obstruction, such as a pedestrian or bicyclist on the shoulder
- Drivers who are backing out into your lane
- Distracted people like delivery drivers, construction workers, or drivers talking on their phones
- Drivers who slow down for no apparent reason (they may be searching for a house number, presenting a distraction)
When to Leave a Greater Following Distance
The 3-second rule adequately deals with daylight and good weather conditions. However, at night or when the weather conditions deteriorate, greater distances between vehicles will be necessary.
Inclement weather like rain or snow leads to worse visibility and slippery road conditions. These factors increase the risk of accidents, making it prudent to double the 3-second rule to a 6-second following distance.
Fog makes driving conditions hazardous because it is challenging to see what is in front of you. When you encounter heavy fog, it is appropriate to triple the time between you and the vehicle ahead to 9 seconds. This allows plenty of room for stopping despite the lack of visibility.
Other Safety Measures
When conditions are bad, or visibility is poor, you should drive slowly and use low beams or fog lights. You need to ensure other drivers can see you and you have plenty of room to stop.
If the visibility gets too bad, you should stop in a well-lit area and wait for conditions to improve. If you are towing a trailer or driving an RV, your required stopping distance may be greater due to the vehicle’s weight. Adjust the space between you and the vehicle ahead accordingly.
Exceptions to the 3-Second Rule
The 3-second rule does not apply where the car in front is stationary due to being stopped at a stop sign or traffic light. There is no reason to leave large spaces between vehicles in these situations.
In stop-and-go traffic in town, it is difficult to judge a 3-second space. However, it is always wise to leave a big enough gap between the vehicles so that you can stop if the car in front brakes suddenly.
What to Do if You Sustain Injuries in an Accident
If you have been rear-ended by a driver not following the 3-second rule or tailgating, speak to the auto accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today. Our California car accident lawyers offer a free case consultation and can help you get the compensation you deserve.
We believe everyone deserves effective legal representation when injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence. That is why we offer a No Fee Guarantee, meaning we only get paid if you recover damages. Start your case now!