In the know: Safe braking distance


Car accidents happen for various reasons. While some are caused by things that are as serious as driving under the influence of prohibited substances, others are results of negligence and bad driving habits — like tailgating.


  • What is safe braking distance?

    Safe braking distance or safe stopping distance is the space between you and the vehicle in front of which gives you enough space and time to decelerate should the vehicle in front rapidly slow down or stop.
  • What is the reaction time needed when driving?

    A driver needs 1.5 seconds to react to a hazard when driving at low speeds and 2.5 seconds when driving at high speed.
  • Today, we look at what safe braking distance is and how driving, with it in mind, can help you become a better road user.

    Safe braking distance or safe stopping distance is the space between you and the vehicle in front of you where it’s deemed safe to decelerate. The idea is that the more you stick your bumper close to a vehicle’s rear, the chances of you colliding with that vehicle’s tail end increases. See, without enough space or distance, there’s very little time for you to react and hit the brakes, causing a collision between you and the vehicle in front of you.


    The three-second rule

    Now, you’ve probably heard your dad, tito, and even your lolo talk about the three-second rule. Surprisingly, the most common technique to observe safe braking distance relies not on measuring space, but time.

    When a vehicle in front of you passes a fixed object on the road, say a traffic sign, the trick is to count to three. If you’ve reached the same fixed object by the time you reach the count of three, that means you’re following too closely. Otherwise, you should be at a safe distance.

    Why the three-second rule?

    Experts say that a driver fit to steer the wheel — that means someone not under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or affected by stress and fatigue — needs about a second-and-a-half to react to a driving hazard and hit the brakes when driving in low-speed situations. When the driver is driving at higher speeds, the time you need increases to about 2.5 seconds to hit the brake. That simply means the vehicle need more time to slow down as you speed up.

    On that note, it’s best to practice driving with the three-second rule in mind to stay safe while on the road and to protect the lives of other road users.

    Photos from Ruben Manahan and Ford

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