When driving, time is distance and distance is what keeps you from having a collision. Always leave a safe gap between your vehicle and surrounding traffic.
What is the safe distance to leave between your vehicle and the one you’re following? It depends on your speed, road conditions, vehicle weight and more. The goal is to give yourself enough time to react and stop or steer your way out of trouble.
Minimum following distances:
- 35 mph and under: 2 seconds.
- Up to 45 mph: 3 seconds.
- Up to 70 mph: 4 seconds.
When to increase following distance:
- slick roads
- limited visibility
- bad weather
- driving a heavy vehicle
- going downhill
How do you measure seconds on the road? Look ahead and find a reference point like a tree, sign or road marker. When the vehicle you’re following passes your reference point, start counting: “One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.” Keep counting until your vehicle reaches the reference point.
How long does it take to cross the road?
- Stopped at an intersection, it takes about four seconds to cross a two-lane road.
- Making a right-hand turn and accelerating to 30 mph takes about six seconds.
- Turning left takes about seven seconds.
- To be safe, wait until there’s a gap in traffic that’s at least two seconds longer than your turning time.