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Should You Be Following the 3-Second Rule While Driving?

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The 3-Second Rule and How It Can Help Keep You Safe While Driving

There are many rules and laws that apply to driving, and these are all designed to help you — and other drivers on the road — stay safe. The 3-second rule is one of these guidelines that you may have heard before but have been confused on how to tell when it’s applicable. Below, you can find information on what the 3-second rule is, how and when to apply it, and when it may not keep you safe.

What Is the 3-Second Rule?

The 3-second rule is a way to help you know if you are giving the vehicle in front of you enough space. To apply the 3-second rule, choose a stationary object coming up. A utility pole or road sign are good options. Start counting when the car in front of you passes the object. Three full seconds should pass between the car in front of you passing the object and your vehicle passing the object. If you aren’t able to count to three before your car passes it, you are likely following too closely.

So, how does the 3-second rule help you stay safe? Leaving room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front gives you time to react if there is a problem or the other driver starts to brake. It can also ensure that you have time to see any potential hazards ahead, such as a pothole or object on the road.

Consequences of Following Too Closely

Hundreds of accidents happen each year from drivers following too closely in traffic. While an accident at slow speeds may only be a fender bender, driving too closely on the interstates or highways can cause catastrophic wrecks that can cause serious injury or even fatalities.

In most cases, a driver who hits the rear of another person’s car with the front of their car — also known as a rear-end collision — is at fault. This is because ensuring there is an assured clear distance ahead is an important part of driving safely. If you are cited for driving too closely, you could incur points on your license, which could end up resulting in your license being suspended if there are multiple infractions. You could also face rising insurance premiums if you are involved in accidents that are your fault.

When the 3-Second Rule Isn’t Enough

The 3-second rule is a good guideline to follow during normal traffic conditions, and it’s relatively easy to check without causing you to be distracted from the road while driving. However, there are times when leaving 3 seconds of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you isn’t enough.

You may need more than 3 seconds worth of space if there are adverse road conditions. While California is known for its pleasant weather, that doesn’t mean we don’t still have some rainy days. When the road is wet, you’ll need more time to brake in case of a slowdown or emergency, which means you need more distance between the car. It’s also wise to provide more distance — and therefore more reaction time — if there are large vehicles, such as tractor trailers, or lots of bikes or pedestrians around.

Of course, there are also times when you don’t need a full 3 seconds between vehicles. For example, if you are pulling up to a red light, there’s no need to keep the cars spaced out. Driving through parking lots or anywhere else you are operating at a very reduced speed may also require less space.

Who Is at Fault in a Rear-End Collision

You may have heard that the driver of the vehicle with front-end damage in a rear-end collision is always at fault, but that’s not necessarily the case. For example, if the leading car changed lanes too quickly, didn’t check their blind spot, or hit the car in front of them, creating a cascade effect, it can change who is at fault.

While a police officer might cite you for a traffic violation related to the accident, it’s the insurance companies involved who will determine who was at fault. This can be a lengthy process, including getting statements from drivers and possibly even doing reconstructions of the accidents to determine what happened. If you’re not sure if you were at fault or if you may be able to pursue compensation from another driver through a civil court case, talking with a personal injury attorney can help you better understand your options.

Were You Injured as a Result When Someone Was Following Too Closely?

The initial aftermath of a car accident is often taken up with treating and recovering from injuries, and all of this can add up to major expenses. In California, it’s possible to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover monies to help you pay for medical bills and time off of work. You may even be able to get some money to compensate you for pain and suffering.

If you need help with a personal injury lawsuit or you’re struggling to get back to normal after an accident that left you injured, the team at Weldon Law Group, PLLC, can help. And the first step is to call our office at 904-204-3420 to set up an initial appointment with an attorney. At this meeting, the attorney will go over the facts of the case and help you understand whether you are able to file a suit seeking compensation for medical bills and other expenses related to your injuries. We know what a devastating effect a car accident can have on your life, and we’re here to help you move forward and get the compensation you deserve.

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