When you drive, you share the road with many others, and keeping a safe following distance at all times is crucial. The problem is that many drivers have no clue how far that is.
The simplest method to calculate a safe following distance is to count three seconds.
Why does this work?
All vehicles need a greater stopping distance as their speed increases. Counting to three avoids you having to try to guess the actual distance to stay behind another vehicle in feet. The faster you travel, the greater your three-second gap automatically becomes (provided you stick to it).
Is three seconds always enough?
You should treat it as an absolute minimum for good conditions. That means good road conditions, good weather conditions and when you are in good mental condition yourself.
If the road surface is loose or wet; if visibility is poor due to fog or rain or if you are feeling tired or have a heavy cold, then you should increase how many seconds you count.
Another reason to increase the distance is concerts about the driver in front
Sometimes you get a bad feeling about a driver in front of you. Perhaps you see they are using their phone as they drive. Or perhaps you notice they are driving a bit erratically. In this case, the safest option is to drop back, as if they are distracted, drunk or something else, then they may brake late because they fail to notice a hazard or red light.
Unfortunately, you always run the risk that a driver behind you does not keep a safe distance. If they hit you from behind then you’ll likely need to find out more about your legal options.