What a safe following distance is

Of all the motor vehicle accidents that occur in Texas and across the U.S., the most common are rear-end collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The leading cause of these collisions is the failure to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

Most drivers have heard of the three-second rule laid down by the National Safety Council. Drivers simply choose a point that the vehicle in front will pass, and if they can count to three by the time they themselves pass that point, then they have achieved a safe following distance. However, this three-second recommendation does not apply in all circumstances.

For example, drivers are expected to increase their following distance in bad weather and road conditions. Heavy rain, snow and fog reduce visibility while rain and snow make the roads slick, increasing the time and the distance required to brake to a stop. In this case, drivers should maintain a following distance of six seconds.

Another thing to keep in mind is distracted driving. Using the phone, eating, and adjusting the radio can all put drivers in danger even when they are following the three-second rule. In addition, drivers should know about the dangers of tailgating, where one aggressively follows another vehicle closely. It can escalate into road rage.

If a driver does not maintain a safe following distance, he or she may cause an accident and be held liable for the other’s monetary and non-monetary losses. Victims, for their part, may file a personal injury claim, but it’s advisable to have a lawyer provide guidance from beginning to end. For example, the lawyer may bring in crash investigators to help strengthen the case. The lawyer may then handle all negotiations for a settlement out of court.