Everyone seems to have their own idea of what a proper following distance is, but the number of rear-end crashes that occur every day indicates that many drivers are wrong. By maintaining a proper following distance, you will limit dangerous and risky driving situations that lead to rear-end accidents. The Department of Transportation (DOT) recommends that for every 10 feet of vehicle length, you need at least one second of following distance. So for heavy-duty trucks, a minimum of a seven-second following distance is required. To check your following distance, pick out a stationary object down the road. When the rear of the vehicle in front of you passes that object, start counting “one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.” until you have reached the stationary object.
Remember, more space is required at night and during inclement weather. Keeping this much space between you and the vehicle you are following is critical so you can safely react when the traffic in front of you unexpectedly stops or slows. Slowing down to ensure proper following distance will only cost you a few minutes a day. But, it could help you avoid a crash that may cost thousands of dollars in damage and result in the loss of your job—or someone’s life.