Rear-end collisions are the most common accidents between vehicles.1 They occur when drivers do not have enough time to perceive and react safely to slowing or stopped traffic. Increasing your following distance can help give you time to react when someone brakes in front of you.
The Three-Second Rule
Increasing the distance between you and the car ahead can help give you the time you need to recognize a hazard and respond safely. The National Safety Council recommends a minimum three second following distance.2
Determining the three-second gap is relatively easy. When following a vehicle, pick an overhead road sign, a tree or other roadside marker. Note when the vehicle ahead passes that marker, then see how many seconds it takes (count 1-1,000; 2-1,000; 3-1,000) for you to pass the same spot. If it is not at least three seconds, leave more space and increase your following distance.
Think of following distance in terms of time, not space. With a standard of 2.5 seconds, highway engineers use time, rather than distance, to represent how long it takes a driver to perceive and react to hazards. The National Safety Council also uses this standard (plus a little extra for safety) when recommending the three-second rule for following distance.3
Sometimes Three Seconds Is Not Enough
The three-second rule is recommended for passenger vehicles during ideal road and weather conditions. Slow down and increase your following distance even more during adverse weather conditions or when visibility is reduced. Also increase your following distance if you are driving a larger vehicle or towing a trailer.
Distractions, such as texting, reaching for a drink or glancing at a navigation device, also play a role in rear-end collisions. Even if you use the three-second rule, you may not have time to react to a hazard if you are distracted. It is another reason why you should avoid distractions while driving.4
Nine out of 10 Americans drive to their travel destination.¹
If you are among those planning to hit the road, remember: safe driving starts before you even leave the driveway. Securing luggage, maintaining vehicle balance and keeping clear lines of sight from the driver’s seat is key.
Learn how to pack your vehicle for safer travels in these videos with Travelers specialist Chris Hayes — and make your road trip a memorable one, for all the right reasons.
As a caring parent, you have tackled your share of difficult talks with your children, from bullying to underage drinking. Now, as your teen prepares to get behind the wheel, get ready to have “the talk” about safe driving. It may be the most critical conversation that you have with your child.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teen drivers, according to theCenters of Disease Control and Prevention.
Due to driving inexperience, teens are more likely to be involved in an accident than other drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.
Based on research, here are five tips to help your “talk” about safe driving be more effective:
Be confident. Know that you can positively influence your child’s behavior behind the wheel.1
Be a safe driver yourself (if you are not already). Teens tend to follow your example.2
Know the facts about teen driving. Some teens increase their already high collision risk by speeding, drinking, driving at night, having peers as pass
engers, and being distracted. Your state likely has Graduated Driver Licensing laws to discourage such risky behaviors among new drivers. Learn about them. And resolve to enforce them, along with other like-minded parents.
Approach your talk like a great coach. Stay calm, and set clear expectations and consequences regarding dangerous driving behaviors mentioned above. Also, put expectations in writing in a simple parent-teen driving contract. And give lots of encouragement. Kids, including adolescents, respond best to positive reinforcement.3
Stay involved. Keep a close eye on your teen’s behavior behind the wheel – even after obtaining a license. Continue to coach them about how to drive more safely. Learning to drive safely takes time, experience, judgment and skill. You may want to consider installing a monitoring device; it provides data on driving behaviors that need improvement. And, understand that you will need to have multiple “talks” with your child.
1 B. Simons-Morton, M.C. Ouimet, “Parent involvement in novice teen driving: a review of the literature,” Injury Prevention, 2006; 12 (Suppl l)i30-i37; Ferguson SA, Williams AF, Chapline JF, Reinfurth DW, DeLeonardis DM. Relationship of parent driving records to the driving records of their children. Accid Anal Prev.2001;33 :229– 234 2 Ibid 3 A. Kazdin, “The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child,” New York, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2008.