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Why the three-second rule matters

As a general rule, you’re supposed to leave three seconds between vehicles. This prevents tailgating. Most drivers know that tailgating itself is illegal, but it still happens often, and part of the reason is that they just don’t know about the three-second rule. They may believe that they’re driving safely.

But this rule actually matters quite a lot when you’re considering safety on the road. Let’s look at why it helps to prevent accidents.

Longer response times

The biggest reason that the three-second rule matters is that it gives you more time to respond to events ahead of you. If you’re too close to the vehicle in front of you and the driver suddenly hits the brakes, you may rear-end them before you can stop. This could happen if a child or an animal unexpectedly runs into the street, for instance.

Remember that you typically don’t start moving your foot to the brake pedal until the other car is already slowing down. Braking will always be a delayed response if you’re reacting to the brake lights ahead of you. More distance gives you more time to do this.

Less aggressive driving

Additionally, tailgating is also connected to aggressive driving. Drivers who tailgate may also make unsafe passes, break the speed limit or weave between lanes. For instance, you’ve likely seen someone tailgating on the interstate in between passing cars on both the left and the right. If they drove less aggressively, they would be more likely to adhere to the three-second rule, and some of these accidents would be less likely.

If you’ve been injured by an aggressive driver who was tailgating or passing illegally, be sure you know how to seek financial compensation.