Should You Increase or Decrease your Following distance

Questions on Your Permit Test

On your permit or driver’s license test you are likely to see a question or two about following distance.

Since rear-end crashes are very common, maintaining a proper following distance is critical for safe driving. Not leaving enough distance between yourself and the car in front of you is known as tailgating. The result is often a rear-end crash and the vehicle following is normally at fault.

Stopping Distances

Get a feel for stopping distances. You are rarely asked for numbers, but you should know that stopping takes much longer and further than many people think. A stopping distance also includes perception and reaction distance. This is the distance your car travels before you start hitting the brakes.


For a long time, two seconds were the standard recommendation under normal driving conditions. Today, most experts agree that you should keep a distance of at least three seconds for most driving situations.

There are, however, many situations where a longer following distance is required. You must fall back when road or weather conditions are bad, when it is dark or you cannot see clearly, and in unfamiliar areas. You must also fall back when you are following vehicles that block your view ahead.

The Pitfall

On our practice tests nearly one out of five (20%) answers these questions incorrectly when the words decrease and increase are used.

Giving yourself a greater space cushion and maintaining a better following distance is the same as increasing your following distance.