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What is the 3 second rule?

In the car, the "three second rule" doesn't pertain to food, but to the distance you keep behind the car in front of you. Three seconds gives you enough time to stop if the car ahead of you crashes or stops quickly.

Many chain reaction accidents happen because drivers only stay a second or so behind the next car in line. This may work when you all hold a consistent speed, but no one has time to react when something unexpected happens.

As the name suggests, the right "distance" to stay behind the next car is easy to determine. Just start counting when the car in front of you passes a fixed object. If you pass it before you get to three seconds, you're too close.

The reason this rule is used is because there is no safe following distance at all speeds and in all conditions. At higher speeds, reaction times are cut and stopping distances get longer. Therefore, you need more physical space than you would at lower speeds. Measuring the stopping distance in time, instead of actual distance, is the best way to make sure it works.

Finally, it is worth noting that conditions can make even three seconds too close. If it's foggy, for example, it can be hard to gauge what's happening and more space may be needed. The same could be true in heavy rain or if you venture north, out of Florida, and find yourself on snow and ice.

Have you been hit by a driver who was following too close, driving negligently and putting you at risk? If so, you need to know if you have a right to financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and more.

Source: Smart Motorist, "Maintain a Safe Following Distance (The 3 Second Rule)," accessed March 03, 2017

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