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What is a Safe Distance Between Cars at Highway Speeds in Texas?

2 second rule

Following too close

Statistics show that driving too fast or speeding is one of the causes of frequent car crashes in Texas. When speeding, you have poor control of your vehicle, and you may not react to an emergency fast enough.

As a driver, familiarize yourself with the speed limits posted by authorities and abide by them. You may have observed that cars on a highway tend to be too close.

This may have left you wondering what a safe distance between cars at highway speeds is. Read on, and we will tell you all about that.

Car Length Rules in Texas

In Texas, a one-car length per every 10 mph is considered a safe distance for drivers on a highway. You should maintain that as your safe distance while driving if possible.

However, car length is vague since car lengths are not uniform. SUVs, Smart cars, and Luxury cars differ in length, yet they use the same highways. It is, therefore, not clear the vehicle to use to determine the safe distance between motor vehicles driving on the road.

What is a Safe Distance Between Cars on a Highway?

The Texas Department of Public Safety published the Texas Driver Handbook that recommends that you follow the 2-seconds rule when driving at a speed of 30 mph. While going faster than that, you can use a 3-seconds safe distance rule to keep a safe distance with the car in front.

avoid collisions by allowing space in frontIn essence, if the car in front of you stops unexpectedly, you should take at least 2 seconds to reach it when driving at 30 mph and 3 seconds when driving at a higher speed. The rule considers that a driver takes about 1.5 seconds to react in an emergency.

While this is the rule, consider the condition and speed of the vehicle ahead of you. If the motor vehicle ahead looks unmaintained, sustain a 3-seconds safe distance. Also, a 3-seconds safe distance rule works better than the 2-seconds distance in most cases.

The set seconds are sufficient for you to take charge of your car to stop it safely behind the vehicle in front of you in an emergency. The safe distance between motor vehicles on a highway is 229 feet when driving at 50 mph and 387 feet at 70 mph.

Notably, safe distance between cars also varies depending on the condition of your tires and brakes, the weather, and speed. These factors make it hard to define what a reliably safe distance is. Nonetheless, you may be ticketed for not keeping a safe distance rule on the road. Houston car accident lawyers see the results of following too close every day.

Assured Clear Distance: What is it? 

When driving in Texas, you are expected to keep the assured clear distance rule. This rule requires that you keep a distance that allows you to stop your car safely behind the motor vehicle in front in case it stops suddenly. Rear-end car accidents happen suddenly and often with little warning.

However, this rule fails to define what this assured clear distance should be, creating a grey area that makes it hard to interpret that rule. Because of this, courts do not impose or interpret it as negligence in determining civil liability.

How Realistic is The Three Second Following Distance Rule?

You may have observed that cars tend to be too close to each other on the road. You may be tempted to go with the flow and begin to follow too closely.

However, in a court of law, you cannot defend yourself for doing something wrong that everybody else was doing.  You are individually liable for breaking safe distance rules.

Besides, following too closely risks you, the car in front and the one behind if it also follows too closely. In case of an emergency, your vehicles may smash into each other, resulting in a pile-up.

Ignoring the safe distance rule puts you at risk of injury and may damage your car. In addition, you may be ticketed and charged for causing injuries to others and damage to property.

Keeping the 3-seconds distance rule and ensuring there is a safe distance between cars on the road keeps you and other road users safe. Remember to calculate your set safe space based on your speed.

Also, consider if your brakes and tire are well maintained when determining the safe distance to keep on the road. The rules should be your minimum, but nothing should stop you from keeping a wider distance if your brakes or tires are not in perfect shape.

However, while driving a highway, driving too slowly may be as dangerous as overspeeding. Follow the posted speed limits or use the same pace as other drivers so long as they aren’t overspending.

In bad weather, keep a wider distance, probably an extra two or three car lengths. Bad weather affects the condition of the road.

You can control the condition of your car and your speed. However, the weather and the state of the road are out of your control. Consider lowering your driving speed and increasing the distance between you and the car in front. In addition, Texas no longer has a nighttime reduced speed limit.

Accidents Caused by a Car Driving Too Close

You may be entitled to compensation if a car following too closely hits you from behind. This depends on the circumstances under which the accident occurred. However, you may be entitled to:

  • Medical expenses reimbursement
  • Compensation for income loss
  • Replacement or repair of your motor vehicle
  • Compensation for suffering and pain

Are you looking for the best personal injury attorney in Houston? Reach out to Baumgartner Law Firm.

At Baumgartner Law Firm, we have a long history of successfully maximizing compensation for car injury victims. We limit the number of cases we handle because we believe in taking time in one case to give the best possible service.

Our goal is to give our full attention to your case to allow you to concentrate on your recovery after your accident. We offer free no-obligation consultation in Texas.

Our services are based on a contingency fee, meaning you do not pay anything if we do not win money for you.  Call us today to discuss your personal injury case with our top-rated attorney. (281) 587-1111