In heavy traffic, you may be subsequently rear-ended
You are almost always found to be at fault; this is true even if the driver in front of you:
Cut in front of you at the last minute
Slammed on their brakes unexpectedly
Recommended minimum following distance (seconds)
Increase your following distance during rain, snow, ice and fog.
Sedans and light trucks
Large vans and light vehicles pulling trailers
Medium/large straight trucks
Practice following at a safer distance: The National Safety Council and most state driving manuals recommend the seconds-counting method.
Determine the minimum number of seconds for your vehicle to stop:
3 seconds for a sedan or light truck
4 seconds for large vans
4 seconds for light vehicles pulling trailers
5 to 6 seconds for medium to large straight trucks
6 to 8 seconds for tractor-trailers
When the vehicle in front of you passes a fixed object, such as a light post or sign, start counting seconds
If your vehicle passes the fixed object prior to your minimum number of seconds needed to stop, slow down and recount
Increase your following distance:
During inclement weather: rain, snow, ice, fog
When brakes and tires are worn or with heavy loads
When being tailgated
Why it matters
There are almost 2.2 million police-reported rear-end collisions each year. Rear-end collisions account for about 32% of all crashes, far exceeding other crash types.1 When a rear-end collision occurs, occupants of all vehicles are often injured.
The driver striking the other vehicle from behind is almost always found to be at fault. A driver is always responsible for maintaining an adequate following distance (gap) in front of them.
 “Traffic Safety Facts 2019, Table 29: Crashes by First Harmful Event, DOT HS 813 141,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (August 2021).
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