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The Three Second Rule: How a Short Time Prevents a Big Crash

Posted On Behalf of Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers on Jan 07, 2013 in Car Accidents

According to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation 2011 data, rear-end collisions account for 22.2 percent of all car crashes in the state of Pennsylvania. Following another driver too closely, called tailgating, is one of the most common ways drivers cause rear-end collisions.

Drivers are responsible for following at a safe distance. They must be able to slow down or stop safely—even when the lead car stops suddenly. The best way to ensure you are following at a safe distance is to follow the three-second rule. It works like this:

  • Select a landmark such as a sign, pole or building that is located in front of the car you are following.
  • Count to three when the rear bumper of the car you are following passes the landmark you chose. Count like this: one thousand-and-one, one thousand-and-two, one thousand-and-three.
  • Check the front of your vehicle to ensure it reaches your landmark just as you finish counting.

If the front of your vehicle reaches the landmark before you have counted to three, you are following the lead car too closely. Slow down a bit and check again to determine whether you are following the three-second rule.

Be sure to add an additional second for each adverse road condition you encounter, including bad weather, slippery road conditions, reduced visibility or heavy traffic. You should also add a second if you are driving a heavy vehicle, following a motorcycle or towing a trailer. Finally, add extra following distance between your car and the lead vehicle when you are driving at speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour.

A rear-end collision is an accident that can almost always be prevented. Paying close attention to the driving task at hand and following the three-second rule to maintain a safe following distance are important to avoid a crash. If you are seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact an experienced Lebanon car wreck lawyer at Schmidt Kramer. The toll-free number is 888-476-0807 and the case evaluation is free. Alternatively, you may wish to download a free copy of our book Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured in an Automobile Accident? for additional information.