These days, vehicles can tell you when to change lanes, self-park, and even automatically brake. But even with recent safety advancements, defensive driving is necessary to ensure you’re doing your part to drive safely. Part of good defensive driving is making sure there is a safe driving distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. Being ready for an unexpected situation will help reduce your chances of an accident.
Is There a Law Concerning Safe Driving Distance in Arkansas?
Yes. However, it is quite vague. Arkansas law requires drivers to maintain a “reasonable and prudent distance.” Violation of this law could result in a fine, and if a driver repeats the violation within six months, they could end up with a revoked license. Following the tips below will help ensure you meet the requirements of “reasonable and prudent” under Arkansas Law.
How Many Seconds Is a Safe Driving Distance?
Perhaps you’ve heard of the two-second rule? What about the three-second rule? Regardless, you are likely wondering what is the safe distance between cars when driving. In general, the more time (the more seconds), the better. The Arkansas Driver License Manual follows the “Four Second Sight Distance Rule.”
Whether you practice the three-, four-, or fifteen-second rule, here is how to calculate your distance in seconds:
- Find a stationary object (sign or telephone pole) near the road. Choose one as far ahead as you are seeing.
- Start counting: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand, etc., until you reach the object.
- The number of seconds you have counted is the number of seconds ahead of the object you need to avoid.
If you cannot see a safe length ahead at your driving speed, you may not be driving at a safe speed.
What Is a Safe Following Distance While Driving?
Drivers following too close commonly cause rear-end collisions. The larger your vehicle, the longer and further it will take to stop, even if you have good tires, brakes, and dry pavement. According to the Arkansas Driver License Manual, at 40 mph, stopping distance is about 124 feet—that means you will drive about 124 feet total after hitting the brakes before you will be able to stop.. At 55 mph, stopping distance is about 225 feet. Avoiding last-minute decisions gives drivers behind you more time to react.
When following a motorcycle, be sure to allow an extra cushion of space. If a motorcyclist falls off their bike for any reason, it is impossible to know where they may land, which could be in the middle of the lane. In such a scary situation, ensuring you leave extra space will give you time to react and prevent a bad situation from worsening.
Similarly, if you’re following a truck, bus, RV, or vehicle pulling a camper or trailer, reduce your speed and give extra space. They may not be able to see you behind them and could suddenly stop.
If you are being followed too closely on a multi-lane roadway, you should move into the lane to the right when it is clear.
Be Mindful of Road Hazards and Bad Weather
Road hazards and poor visibility may also require additional stopping distance to ensure a safe distance when driving. Hazards that limit a driver’s visibility include:
- Darkness. Your headlights let you see about 400 feet ahead. You should drive at a speed that allows you to stop within this distance, which is around 50 mph.
- Rain, fog, or snow. Heavy rain, snowstorms, or thick fog may not allow you to see more than 200 feet ahead. To be safe, you should not drive more than 30 mph.
- Hills and curves. Adjust your speed so you can stop if needed. You may not know what is on the other side of a hill or just around a curve, so be ready to stop.
- Parked vehicles. Vehicles parked along the side of the road may block your view. Give parked vehicles as much room as possible to make space for people getting out of a car or walking out from between parked cars.
Traveling too fast will not allow time to stop to compensate for road hazards or poor visibility, so keeping your speed at a minimum is your safest bet.
Contact a Local Attorney
If you or someone you love was in an accident because someone failed to maintain an appropriate driving distance, talking to an auto accident attorney is a great first step to getting back on track. The Harris Law Firm, PLLC is an Avvo top-rated personal injury firm backed by more than 35 years of experience. Contact us today at 662-262-8114 to get the one-on-one attention you deserve.