How Much Space You Need Between Cars at Highway Speeds?

Many people are aware that there should be enough space between the cars in front of you in order to create a safety zone in the event that an emergency stop must be made. That being said, there are equally many individuals that are not aware of how much space is needed or proper highway etiquette regarding distance. This can in turn lead to road rage, highway accidents, or at worst, highway fatalities.

In this regard, many individuals may consider the fact that there are no stop lights, pedestrians, bicycles, or intersections; and therefore, a lesser chance of collisions. However, this should not detract one from using caution when on the freeway. Driving on the highway requires higher speeds, than the usual 35 that is seen on typical street and country roads. As such, freeway crashes, when they occur can then lead to a higher rate of bodily harm and accidents. Thus, the logic is that if you get into an accident in a highway collision, you are more likely to be seriously injured or perish.

Thus, knowing the correct distance to put between you and the other car can potentially save your life, or the life or the other drivers! Not to mention all passengers on board!

The correct amount of distance?

The most common safe distance method is to follow the 3-second rule. Essentially, one should pick a focal point that is parallel to the car in front of you, such as a building or road sign. You then count the seconds it takes you to arrive at that same road point.

If you are under three seconds, then you are following too closely to the other driver and must ease up in order to avoid a collision, or potential pile-up.

If the road is icy, wet, curvy, or there is an overall reduction in the amount of visibility, the general consensus is to increase the following distance to 6-seconds rather than three. This will give you ample time in the event that your car begins to slip on the unfavorable road conditions.

Another rule is to ensure that you can see the bottom of the other driver’s wheels. If you cannot, then you are driving too closely and need to slow down.

What to do if you are tailgated?

Tailgating is considered the act of driving extremely close to the car in front of you, and can not only be dangerous, but off-putting to the other driver. As driver’s in Houston know, many times on our highways, it is very hard to keep a vehicle from tailgating especially during rush hour traffic.

This, in turn, can lead to cases of road rage. As mentioned previously, the most important thing for you to do is to avoid tailgating to begin with, however there is no way to control the other drivers.

Thus, if a vehicle is driving extremely close to your backend, remain calm. The worst thing to do is react negatively. You can then ease off the gas and put more distance in front of you. Avoiding a car wreck should always be your priority!

Another suggestion, if applicable, is to switch lines so the situation is avoided altogether.

Finally, many Houston drivers’ drive in the fast lanes when they could and should be driving in lanes to the right. Let the faster drivers have the fast lane, and relax, be calm and arrive safely!


Baumgartner Law Firm
6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy
Houston, Texas 77069
(281) 587-1111

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