What is a safe following distance

Road Safety Advice 


Driving too close – the two second rule 

In normal weather conditions you should always drive with at least a two second time gap between you and the vehicle in front. 


  • On a dry road and in good weather conditions, choose a point like a lamp post or road sign. 
  • When the vehicle in front passes that point, say out loud “Only a fool breaks the two second rule” 
  • Check your position in relation to your chosen point as you finish saying this. If you have already passed the point, you are driving too close to the vehicle in front and need to drop back. 
  • In wet weather, double the distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you by saying “Only the fool breaks the two second rule” twice, or you can say it once and add the following “If it pours make it four”  

“Only a fool breaks the two second rule, if it pours make it four” 


So, what are the reasons people drive to close to the vehicle in front? 

Distractions – It can be easy to become distracted while driving, things outside the car like pedestrians, advertising, other drivers, wildlife, traffic accidents etc. Things inside the car can be just as distracting to your driving, such as, children, mobile phones, music on the radio, satnavs, loose animals, eating or drinking. Always be aware of your surroundings and how they can affect your driving and ability to react.  

Not planning your journey – Another reason for driving to close to the vehicle in front, is that you are in a hurry and haven't planned your journey well enough for possible delays such as stopping for fuel or in case of bad weather that your vehicle may need demisting or worse still de-icing. 

Not giving yourself enough time – Life is hectic, for most of us rushing around is part of life, whether it be picking the kids up from school or getting ourselves to work on time, we always have the need to be somewhere in a hurry. I know it's not always easy, but try and plan your time and if a journey normally takes 10 minutes, if you can, give yourself and extra 5 minutes for your journey. This should help eliminate the need to rush around and can help your drive be more relaxing and enjoyable, in turn you are less likely to tail gate the vehicle in front of you. 

Remember its always better to arrive alive instead of "Dead!” on time.

So, plan your journeys and try not to rush. 

Driving while tired – It is estimated that drivers who fall asleep account for around one fifth of incidents on major roads. Don’t start long trips if your already tired and try to avoid long trips between midnight and 6am when you are more likely to be naturally tired. 

Driving under the influence – Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is never a good idea. Doing so can greatly reduce your reaction times and increase the risk of you being involved in, or causing a road traffic accident.  

The police can stop you and make you do a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they think you're on drugs. This is a series of test, for example, asking you to walk in a straight line. 

The penalties for driving under the influence can be  

  • Up to 6 months in prison 
  • A fine of an unlimited amount 
  • A criminal record 
  • A minimum 1 year driving ban 
  • Points on your licence lasting up to 11 years 

You will also be looking at a significant increase in your car insurance and if you drive for work, your employer will be able to see your conviction on your licence. You may even have trouble traveling to some countries like the USA. 

If you are taking legal drugs, such as prescribed by your doctor or over the counter medicines, always check if they can affect your driving.  


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