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Joao Rodrigues

How to maintain your safety distance

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The safety distance is generally defined as the spatial distance to an object or the temporal distance from a process to avoid the emergence of a danger.


But let us keep it simple:

In road traffic, the safety distance is the distance between your vehicle and another vehicle.

That can be a following distance (from one vehicles bumper to another vehicles bumper) or a side distance (from one vehicles exterior side mirror to another vehicles exterior side mirror).


In this article, I want to take a closer look at the safety following distance.




Things always seem to happen when you least expect them.

That especially stays true for road traffic, as you cannot predict other road users next move.

The safety following distance ensures that you have more time to recognize hazard traffic situations and react accordingly.


For example, a preceding road user suddenly makes an emergency stop to avoid an accident with another road user.

A sufficient distance will give you more time to react and likely prevent you from a rear-end collision.


The three-second rule

The three-second rule is a rule of thumb stating that you should keep a timely distance of three seconds to a preceding vehicle.

In the field that means if a preceding vehicle passes e.g. a traffic sign, a tree or any other fix marker you should pass that spot three seconds later.

So when the preceding vehicle passes the spot, just slowly start to count 1,000...2,000...3,000.

If you arrive earlier than three seconds, increase your safety distance.






Anything else?

Please bear in mind that this rule is only valid in dry road conditions.

Wet and icy road conditions as well as limited visibility conditions caused by fog, rain or snow require you to increase your safety following distance (and to lower your speed!) accordingly.


Also do not mistake an increased safety distance as a free ride for texting messages or other distractions.




Drive safely!




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