From the Rockies and across the Great Plains and into the Northeast, cold snowy weather has started. Winter driving challenges even the best of drivers and can be terrifying to people who seldom experience snow and ice.
The old rule of thumb for safe following distance was to allow one car length between your vehicle and the one ahead of you for every 10 miles per hour of speed you are traveling. Safety experts no longer use this approach, and have replaced it with a simple counting system.
To check your safe following distance, locate a landmark just ahead of you, such as a bridge, tree, or sign. When the vehicle just ahead of you passes it, being counting “one thousand one, on thousand two,” and so on. Each time you count out the third number it represents the passing of one second. The desired number of seconds to count varies with driving conditions.
Good weather, light traffic, count three seconds. Inclement weather, heavy traffic or night driving double the three second rule to six secondes. Poor weather, such as heavy rain, fog, or snow, start by trippling the three second rule to nine seconds.
It’s good to test your ability to stop. Increase the time interval if necessary, but don’t shorten it. Pull over if you are being tailgated or move to another lane.
Practicing safe driving in all types of weather can save lives and prevent accidents.