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Behind-the-Wheel Basics: Choosing a Proper Following Distance

Last updated 5 years ago

From making a legal right turn at a red light to perfecting your parallel parking technique in the city, the lessons you can learn in professional driver training courses are seemingly endless. Each lesson is designed to prepare you for situations both in and out of your own control so that you can handle them safely. Here is a brief introduction to one of those lessons—how to choose a proper following distance:

Normal Conditions and a Moderate Speed

When driving around 40 mph on a clear day, you should follow what many driving instructors refer to as “the three-second rule.” Choose a fixed landmark along the side of the road that lines up with the car in front of you, and count how many seconds it takes for you to reach that point in your own car. If it takes less than three seconds, you are following too closely.

Freeway Driving and Higher Speed Limits

When driving on the freeway at 55mph or more, it’s important to adjust your following distance. Fortunately, the three-second rule can also be applied on the highway—since you and the vehicle in front of you are both traveling at higher speeds, three seconds’ worth of distance will be further than it would at 40 mph. Following at this distance will allow you plenty of time to come to a safe stop.   

Poor Weather and Low Visibility

Under poor driving conditions, you should always reduce your speed and double your following distance. The three-second rule should become the six-second rule. Your car’s tires will require more time to come to a complete stop when rain, snow, sleet, or hail is present.

Here at Top Driver, our instructors are committed to producing skilled and experienced drivers. We offer driving courses at a variety of different skill levels—including lessons for teens and adults. Visit our website or call us at (888) 471-5418 to find out how you can enroll yourself or a loved one today.



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