Safe in 60: How To Do the Math For A Safe Following Distance
SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – We’ve all seen it, and possibly even been guilty of it – following too close on the road. According to the Utah Driver Handbook, it’s the leading cause of crashes on Utah highways.
Keeping a safe following distance is one of the easiest defensive driving rules to follow, yet it’s one of the most commonly broken.
If you’re going 70 miles per hour on a dry road during daylight hours and your brakes are in great condition, your stopping distance is about 233 feet.
But realistically, your brain must first figure out what is happening before pushing on the brake, and that adds another 1.5 seconds, making the total stopping distance closer to 400 feet.
Unless you are a math whiz, it’s difficult to figure out how long it will take a vehicle to stop in every situation. But here are some general guidelines:
- Under the above conditions, your stopping distance should be about three seconds.
- After dark, you should increase your following distance to at least 4 seconds.
- During extreme weather conditions, especially if there is snow or ice, your following distance should be between 6 and 10 seconds.
I know what you are thinking – if I leave that much distance between me and the car in front of me on the freeway, someone will just pull in there and fill the gap. But that’s okay. Just readjust to maintain that safe following distance.
If you keep a proper following distance, you will almost always have an escape route or enough time to react when it’s most important.