As many as 30% of all the car accidents that happen yearly in the United States are rear-end accidents resulting in thousands of mild to severe injuries and fatalities, comprising 6.8% of all traffic fatalities.1
Sadly, most rear-end accidents are avoidable and in part caused by failing to maintain a large enough distance or space cushion between vehicles.
Lawyers who help clients injured in car accidents see the effects of these accidents every day and stress the importance of a sufficient space cushion to prevent injury-causing and deadly rear-end collisions.
What Is A Space Cushion?
A space cushion is the amount of space between the front end of your car and the rear end of the vehicle in front of you while traffic is moving, giving you enough time to react and slow or stop your vehicle without hitting the vehicle in front when it slows or stops.
Keeping an adequate space cushion that gives you enough time and distance to slow without rear-ending the car in front of you is a critical defensive driving technique that should always be practiced.
That amount of space gives you the time needed to react to traffic in front of and around you what has slowed or shopped, time to slow or stop your car without hitting the car in front of you.
How Much of A Space Cushion Is Enough?
According to the experts, your space cushion should be at least a 3-second distance from the car in front of you and that distance will change depending on how fast you are driving.
The faster your car is moving will increase the distance needed to slow it down to avoid a rear-end car accident with the vehicle in front of yours, so the larger your space cushion must be.
Larger space cushions are essential when driving in bad weather with poor road conditions, as stopping abruptly could cause your car to slide which is why you need a longer distance to slow down gradually.
It can be a challenging technique to practice in heavy traffic as that cushion can encourage some driver to cut into your cushion, so you must constantly adjust your space cushion to drive safely and avoid a collision.
How Do You Create An Acceptable Space Cushion?
Creating a space cushion is easy to do when driving and the space you create using this method will be relative to the speed at which you are traveling.
Simply locate a stationary object at the side of the road that the car in front of you will pass and once it does, start slowly counting to three like "a thousand one, a thousand two, a thousand three."
Space yourself so that your car does not pass that same point until three seconds have passed after the first car passed it.
As long as you are driving at basically the same speed as the car in front of you and aren’t gaining on it, a three-second gap is considered sufficient on a clear day with safe roads.
If it’s foggy out or the roads are wet, icy, or snow-covered, car accident lawyers warn that you should considerably increase your cushion up to 2 or 3 second based on road condition to have the extra distance you need to safely slow or stop.
Additionally, while creating a space cushion in front of you, keep in mind while creating a space cushion in front of you to also be aware of traffic on both sides of you to avoid driving too closely especially with large vehicles as well as continuously monitor your blind spots.
Be Safe With Proper Space Cushions
Keeping safe on the highway demands careful attention to your driving, including establishing an effective space cushion.
You must leave enough time and distance to react to traffic in front of and around you in order to stop in time and avoid a car accident.
Accomplish this by always driving using a three-second or larger space cushion when following another car in traffic.
In addition, pay careful attention to what is going on around you so that you can react accordingly to stop or maneuver as necessary to avoid ending up in an rear-end car accident.
Hildebrand & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1National Center for Statistics and Analysis (2016, August): 2015 motor vehicle crashes: Overview. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 812 318). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.