We have all seen those stickers on the back of vehicles with the wording “If you can read this you are too close!” Every day we find collisions on our roads that are described as “chain collisions” where several vehicles crash into the rears of the vehicles in front of them!
Many of these collisions can be avoided if we paid a bit more attention to an effective following distance! Emergencies will occur and we need to allow us the time and space to act in an emergency! It is time that we take note of the 2 second rule on following distances!
What is the 2 Second Rule?
Most International road safety campaigns refer to the “2 Second Rule” as a guideline for safe following distances. A point on the road is noted, two seconds are counted, and if that point is still visible then there’s probably enough following distance.
The 2 Second Rule is applied as follows:
- Watch the vehicle in front of you pass a landmark – such as a sign, tree, or power pole – at the side of the road.
- As it passes the landmark, start counting “one thousand and one, one thousand and two”.
- If you pass the landmark before you finish saying all eight words, you are following too closely. Slow down, pick another landmark and repeat the words, to make sure you have increased your following distance.
This rule will ensure that you keep the correct following distance, no matter what speed you are traveling at.
Adjusting Following Distance
The 2 Second Rule is only the advised measure when driving conditions are ideal. This should be seen as a bare minimum and should be adjusted to at least 4 Seconds in the following situations:
- In adverse weather conditions
- Driving on slippery roads
- Driving at night
- When following vehicles with different characteristics, i.e. motorcycles & trucks
- When towing a trailer or other object
It is of the utmost importance to use a bit of common sense as well with regards to what is safe in specific conditions. In a section titled “Safe driving on gravel” on the Arrive Alive website we find the advice that a 6 Second following distance should be followed on gravel roads where dust is a major concern for visibility! Other challenging conditions may include driving near veld and forest fires and driving in fog and mist!