Do You Know the Safe Distance Between Cars While Driving?

Many people are aware that maintaining distance from the car infront of you is important as it can prevent accidents. However, majority of the people aren’t aware of how much speed is needed or proper highway etiquette regarding distance. This can eventually lead to road rage, highway accidents, or at worst, highway fatalities.

Safe Following Distances

Following any vehicle closely is commonly known as tailgating. If you tailgate, chances are that you won’t be able to stop the car to avoid a collision. However, distance is not the only thing that matters.

Safe following distances vary depending on following factors:

  • Speed,
  • Driving conditions,
  • Type of vehicle you are driving.

What Is The Safe Following Distance?

For years, a safe following distance behind the vehicle in front of you was based on one car length (20 feet) for each 10 mph you were traveling.

In the late 1960s, this was changed to the two-second rule. Later, driving authorities found that the two-second rule was only adequate for speeds up to 35 mph.

Variable Following Distance was introduced, which has been extremely successful thus far:

  • Two-second following distance, 0-35 mph,

  • Three-second following distance, 36-60 mph,

  • Four-second following distance, 61+ mph.

It is important to note that the distance between vehicles needs to increase while a heavy vehicle is involved or if the conditions (road, weather, etc) are poor.

How To Ensure Safe Distance?

In order to ensure safe distance, you can use the time-lapse method.

Here’s how you do that:

  • Pick a stationary mark on the side of the road i.e. power or light pole.

  • When the rear of the car ahead passes the object, count the seconds (depending on what speed you’re driving).

  • If the front of your car passes the object before you finish counting, it means you don’t have enough distance in between, so drop back.

You can consult the following video to learn more about the right distances between vehicles:

Zarar looks after Sports & Auto at ProPakistani.


  • There must be an app for this that can calculate the distance automatically and shows the seconds with the help of Augmented Reality or Google Map GPS Technology. The app may go viral!

    • FuriousNinja

      Develop apps or do something more than that but one thing is for sure that average driver doesn’t use his common sense. A mere app cant do anything for the automobile drivers of Pakistan. Even if we leave a few metres gap between our vehicles some die-hard will overtake and grab that spot or those pesky motorcyclists will jam it.

  • Xahid

    well, if you make that gap, the motorcyclists will fill it up for you ;)

    • M Waseem Akhtar

      Haha, 2 second gap at 35 Miles per Hour means a gap of 102 feet. A full fleet of motorcycles can fit here.

      • Hasnu

        In Karachi even trucks and water tankers can fit with ease :P

      • Muhammad Kamran

        2 seconds formula is applicable in UAE and it only applies if you r driving more than 60km/h. also for trucks and bad weather condition safe distance should be 4 seconds.

  • Raheel

    well, this is something very advanced for our society to understand….

    I believe the very basic and first step is to follow is the lanes and rules to change the lanes…
    use of indicators, unfortunately in a well educated and executive city like Islamabad I see all the times on highways executive class people having vehicles like new models of honda civic, city and corolla even bmw changing lanes so frequently and without any use of indicators is such a shameful act for all of us…

    we dont know how to park the cars even where proper parking space is available in front of commercial area many people used to park the car on road space and the reason they give is ‘kuch nai hota ha yar 2min k liay tu gya tha shop mei, gari morne mei itna time waste ho jata ha’…
    and listening to such comments from someone sitting in new corolla or honda city or civic feels so disgusting….I mean how much time it takes you to reverse the car and drive back :@

    almost on a daily basis, I am having arguments with such stupid people just to let them realize that someone is getting disturbed with your jahlilana harkatain … parhe likhay jahil isi ko kaha jata ha

    anyways, who ever is reading this…please please spread the positivity and at first let others know politely what are they doing wrong and how they can make if good for themselves and others… please please please use common sense while on road :)

    • FuriousNinja

      Well said.

  • Nawaz

    Copied content.

  • 326

    mph should have been converted to kmph for Pakistani audience.

  • Aman Sarwar

    Pro Pakistani please write something on “how not to use high beams like an idiot”

    • Khawer Naseer

      I have faced this issue many a times, I don’t get how people do not have the politeness or sense or courtesy to switch off high-beams when somebody is coming in front of them, it simply blinds the person coming from opposite direction.

      • Danish

        This is what they want….
        It gives them pleasure to make other blind.

  • Muhammad Kamran

    I would like to suggest you to read following Light motor handbook. These standards are followed in UAE (RTA). I will help you lot
    http://aljariyat.net/MyPublicFiles/Light_Motor_Handbook_EN.pdf

  • Arsalan Shah

    Seriously. Such a shame. No one in Pakistan uses or understands miles or mph. If an effort to write this article had been made, it should’ve been at least converted to km/hr or kms.

    • Muhammad Akbar

      I think its a copy paste article but its useful.