You probably consider yourself a pretty good driver. You keep to the speed limit, pass on the left, and certainly never tailgate another driver. Or do you? Neosho car accident lawyers know from years of experience that approximately one third of rear-end collisions involve tailgating as a main contributing factor.
The standard for maintaining a safe following distance behind another car is the "3 second rule." However, did you know that--under certain road conditions--6 seconds or even 9 seconds is much more appropriate?
Safe Following Distances Prevent Auto Accidents
Here's how to get a good sense of how far behind another driver you should be. As you are driving, pick a fixed, unmoving object ahead of you, such as an underpass or road sign. When the car in front of you passes it, start slowly counting: one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand. If you reach or pass the fixed object before you have counted off to three-one thousand, then you are following too closely.
Three seconds is the recommended safe following distance in good weather and good road conditions: daytime, dry roads, and minimal traffic. It gives you both the time and distance you need to stop suddenly, or to respond to other problems in front of you. The recommended safe distance will also change based on speed, because the faster you go, the longer it takes to stop. At night, during bad weather (such as light rain or fog), or in heavy traffic, it is prudent to double the 3 second rule to 6 seconds. If you are driving in heavy rain, fog or snow, then 9 seconds is the recommendation to cut down on unnecessary traffic accidents.
Does this mean you need to be counting off distances all the time? Of course not--but if you do it once or twice, you will get a good sense of how far behind another vehicle you should be. This helps drivers to become aware of tailgating, which is a highly dangerous driving practice that many people are simply oblivious to.
What about purposeful tailgating, when someone is "riding your bumper" on purpose? This is an aggressive and dangerous driving behavior that is often linked to road rage. One recent survey reported that 89 percent of the drivers polled saw examples of road rage first hand within the past month. 42 percent admitted to driving aggressively during this time period as well.
If you notice you are tailgating, the solution is simple: just slow down. If you notice someone is tailgating you, whether purposely or out of inattention, move into another lane. If that isn't possible, then turn off the road at your earliest opportunity, and allow the tailgating vehicle to pass you.
Becoming more aware of tailgating and the 3 second (or 6 or 9 second) rule is probably one of the simplest things all Neosho and Joplin drivers can do to cut down on car crashes and their resulting injuries and accidents.
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