Tip Sheet

How do you know if you're too close to the car in front of you?

Follow the three-second rule

So you already know (or at least you damn well should know) that tailgating is a big no-no when you’re driving. As much as you want to get ahead of the guy in front of you, tailing their bumper at close proximity just increases your risk of getting into an accident. And we don’t have to remind you that getting into a fender bender will make your trip take even longer.

So the question is, how do you make sure that you’re leaving a safe enough distance between you and the car in front? You can do it using a very simple trick known as the three-second rule. This rule states that you should leave at least three seconds of space between you and the car in front.

To measure the distance, choose a landmark on the side of the road like a lamp post or a street sign. Once the car in front passes that landmark, three seconds or more should elapse before you pass it as well. If it takes you less than that, then you’re following too close. Here’s a handy video to help you out:

If you're viewing this on a mobile device and can't see the video, please click here.


Naturally, the faster you go, the longer the physical distance of those three seconds will be. Your gap at 100kph on the highway will be much more generous than when you're going 50kph in the city. Take note that those three seconds are the minimum. The type of vehicle you’re in and the driving conditions (like rain, for example), will dictate if you need to make the gap even longer.

Leave the gitgitan moves at home, guys. Drive safely! 

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PHOTO: Pierre Amerlynck/Freeimages
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