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Keep a safe driving distance during inclement weather

Maintaining a sufficient distance behind other vehicles can reduce the risk of auto accidents. During inclement weather, you may need to stay further back from the car in front of you than you realize.

Review this guide to keeping a safe following distance from other motorists when rain or snow occurs.

Understanding the three-second rule

Many driving teachers recommend using the so-called three-second rule to gauge the following distance. On a road with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour, watch the car in front of you pass a fixed object such as a mailbox or telephone. Approximately three seconds should go by before you pass the same object if you have left enough distance.

Increase your following distance by an additional second for each additional 10 mph. Count slowly, using the “one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand” trick you may remember from school. You can also have a passenger time on their watch for extra precision.

Adjusting for weather conditions

Double your typical following distance when you encounter less than ideal road conditions, including sleet, snow and rain. In other words, if your safe speed is 30 mph, make sure you are six seconds instead of three seconds behind the car in front of you.

Leaving enough space allows you to avoid a collision if someone stops suddenly or loses control of their vehicle. Increase your following distance even further when you are behind a semi-truck, tractor-trailer or bus. These extra-large motor vehicles need extra time and stopping distance because of their heft.

Maintaining plenty of following distance decreases your chance of experiencing a serious auto accident injury.

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