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The 3-second rule

A key rule of driving safety is as simple as one, two three. The National Safety Council recommends what is known as the 3-second rule for allowing space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

It is also known as a speed cushion. In this post, we will provide a reminder of how it works.

What is the 3-second rule?

The National Safety Council defines the 3-second rule this way: Take note of when the vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object on the roadside. Then begin counting, using the timing of “one-thousand one, one thousand two and one-thousand three.”

When you get to three is when you should yourself pass the object you have chosen as the marker.

How to develop a speed cushion

A proper speed cushion will give you about three seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. This is in good weather without precipitation. If there are adverse weather conditions, such as fog or rain, or if the sun is not out, then you should allow for additional space. You also need to adjust the distance if you are in heavy traffic or on a roadway where you cannot see clearly ahead.

Another aspect of your speed cushion is to always have a plan to get out of the situation. For example, know where you go if you couldn’t stop fast enough to avoid a rear-end collision. Always know an alternative path you can take to avoid putting yourself and others at risk. This requires knowing what is happening on all sides of your vehicle, so constantly check your mirrors and know where other vehicles are in relation to yours.

Reasons to develop a speed cushion

A speed cushion allows you to avoid collisions because it gives you enough time to react and stop if the vehicle in front of you stops or otherwise does something that could lead to a crash.