Safe following distances!

Written by Neil Bedford

You must drive a safe distance behind a vehicle travelling in front of you. Following another vehicle too closely is known as tailgating. If you tailgate you may not be able to safely stop in time to avoid a collision.

Safe following distances vary depending on:

What is a safe following distance?

In most cases, a safe following distance is much longer than a car length.

You should drive at least 2 seconds behind the vehicle in front during ideal conditions.

Add 1 second extra for each 3m of trailer length—when driving a vehicle towing a trailer or caravan.

Remember to also:

  • double your following distance in poor conditions
  • increase following distances if you're driving a heavy vehicle.

Time-lapse method

One car passes a landmark, with another car following behind at a safe distance

Cars using the time-lapse method

You can use the time-lapse method to keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front.

  1. Pick a mark on the road or an object close to the left-hand side of the road, such as a power or light pole.
  2. When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the object, count ‘1 thousand 1, 1 thousand 2’ or 'Only a fool breaks the 2 second rule!' (these both take about 2 seconds to say!).
  3. If the front of your vehicle passes the object before you finish counting, you are too close, so drop back.


(Information provided from TMR and RACQ Official YouTube)

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