The Two Second Rule Explained

two second rule

The most common cause of accidents is a lack of space between vehicles, coupled with excessive speed.

You owe it to yourself and your passengers to keep a safe gap between you and the vehicle ahead at all times.

The easiest way to judge a safe gap is to use the two-second rule. By keeping a minimum of a two second time gap in front of your vehicle (double in poor weather) you will create space in which to react to any emergency that happens ahead. In wet weather or on poor road surfaces you should double this gap. Remember that two seconds is a minimum gap, the longer the gap, the bigger your safety margin.

Look around and you will notice that many drivers neglect to leave a sufficient gap, especially in poor weather conditions – read the news and watch TV and you will see stories about accidents in which people are killed and injured. Coincidence?


How it works

Next time you are following another vehicle you can use the phrase “only a fool breaks the two second rule”.  Say this to yourself, or out loud at a nice steady pace.  This phrase takes around two seconds to say, (or simply count two seconds).  Do this as the vehicle in front passes some kind of fixed point on the road or roadside.  It could be a road sign or marking, a lamp post or tree etc.  If you pass the same point before you have finished saying the phrase, then you are two close.  If you are too close increase the size of the gap by dropping back a little and repeat the phrase again.


Are you driving too close?

Try holding your hand about two inches in front of your eyes and consider what you can see directly in front of you… But not while you are driving!

Now, keeping your hand in front and in line with your eyes, gradually move it away and notice how your view of the world in front is changing.

If you now apply the same principle to large vehicles you will find that by keeping well back you have a wider field of view ahead – this is one of the reasons that drivers are advised to leave a ‘two chevron’ gap on specially marked sections of motorways.

Quite often, drivers who follow too close to large vehicles miss opportunities to overtake simply because they can’t see far enough ahead.

By keeping well back you will be in a much safer position to overtake and as a result of this, you will probably complete your journey quicker.