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Following distance in your vehicle is measured in time because as your speed increases so too does your following distance. When teaching new and upgrading drivers, it is paramount that they learn minimum following distances. Because it is faster to steer out an emergency than to brake; however, to steer a driver requires space. By controlling and maintaining space in front of her vehicle, a driver is going to be safer overall.

As well, the space in front is one of the few space around a vehicle that a driver can always control.

Determining following distance in time (seconds):

  • Pick a stationary object in the distance.
  • When the vehicle you are following passes that fixed object - begin counting.
  • 1 drunk elephant, 2 drunk elephants, 3 drunk elephants....
  • When you pass the fixed object, the number you counted is your following distance.

Time is used to determine following distance because as speeds increase so to does the distance between vehicles.

Following distance in your vehicle is measured in time because as your speed increases so too does your following distance. At 60km/hr, for example, a vehicle travels at approximately 17m/s. However, at 100km/hr your vehicle is travelling at 28m/s and if you maintain a 2 second following distance at 60km/h your following distance will be approximately 35 m and at 100km/hr it will increase to 55m.

2 seconds allows a good amount of both space and time to conduct emergency manoeuvres; however, know that this following distance must increase as road conditions deteriorate (traffic congestions, light conditions, drivers’ fitness, vehicle condition, road surface, weather).