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Why is it important to maintain a safe following distance?

You are driving on one of California's busiest thoroughfares when the driver in front of you slams on their brakes in an effort to avoid colliding with slowing traffic ahead. A surge of panic causes you to react the same way and after a quick glance to your right you are relieved to see a place where you can swerve out of the way. You take a deep breath and continue driving, but a bit more cautiously this time. It is these kinds of situations that illustrate why it is so important for you to maintain a safe following distance behind the car in front of you. 

Chances are, when you were a new driver and completing the required educational courses, you learned about or at the very least, heard about the 3-second rule. This standard recommends that you find some type of landmark; a road sign, light post or building for example, and you should be three seconds behind the driver in front of you when you pass it. So, if you see a car wash up ahead, after the car in front of you passes the building, it should take you three seconds to reach that same building. 

According to AARP, additional time should be added if you are driving in inclement weather. Experts suggest adding one second more if you are driving in the rain. If you are driving in a thunderstorm, high winds or other inclement weather, adding two or three seconds is in your better interest. 

The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.  

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