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The Three-Second Rule Allows You to Maintain a Safe Following Distance While Driving

Remember the Three-Second Rule while driving

Have you heard of the three-second rule? No, we’re not talking about the three-second rule in basketball, or the one that says if you drop your food on the floor it’s safe to eat.

What we at Fix Auto Sun City are talking about is how to use the three-second rule when you drive and preventing accidents as a result.

It’s a simple way to ensure that you are driving a safe distance behind the car in front of you.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions are the most common type of accidents on the road and account for 29% of all crashes. They almost always occur when there is not enough time for you to react after the car ahead of you stops suddenly or slows down unexpectedly.

Having a three-second buffer between you and another car will help you avoid getting into an accident, here in Sun City, AZ or anywhere else you're traveling to.

How to Use the Three-Second Rule

When driving around Sun City with light traffic and good road conditions, find a point of reference in front of you such as a sign, tree or line on the road. When the vehicle in front of you passes that object, start counting slowly: one, one thousand. Two, one thousand. Three, one thousand.

If you pass the object before you stop counting, you are following too closely. Decrease your speed and try again. Otherwise, you can be assured that you are following at a safe driving distance.

When to Increase the Distance

Sometimes three seconds isn’t enough. The American Automobile Association recommends leaving a four-second gap on the highway. If it is nighttime, traffic is busy, or you are driving in less than ideal conditions with poor visibility, many recommend increasing your following distance to six seconds. When road conditions are very bad, you can triple the distance to nine seconds.

Other times to increase your distance include when you are tired, you have an unusually talkative person in the car with you or there are other distractions.

Don't Tailgate! You might get in an accident.

Stopping Distance

Stopping distance is made up of your reaction time and braking distance. The reaction time is the time it takes for a driver to decide whether or not to brake, lift his/her foot off of the gas pedal and press the brake pedal down. The braking distance is the physical time spent braking, so the car will come to a complete stop.

Drivers need to allow enough time for both, which is why it is important to leave plenty of space between you and other vehicles.


By following the three-second rule, you can also avoid tailgating, which is when you follow a car too closely. There is no benefit to tailgating. You won’t reach your destination any quicker and it only increases your chances of having a collision.

Try not to worry about tailgaters behind you who think you are leaving too much space. Remain calm, maintain a constant speed and consider pulling over to allow the vehicle to pass you.

The three-second rule works at any speed. It could save your life, so start counting!

Sources: NHTSA, AAA and Wikipedia

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