What is the Three Second Rule in Driving?
According to the National Highway Safety Administration rear end collisions are the most common accidents a between all vehicles. These accidents normally occur because drivers are distracted in some way. Whether a driver is texting (illegal), operating the stereo, engaging in a conversation, they do not have enough time to avoid a collision by the time they notice the slowing or stopped traffic directly in front of them. Sometimes, drivers are simply following too closely tailgating and cause these collisions. To avoid these accidents, driving safety experts recommend following the three second driving rule - allow three seconds between you and the vehicle you are following.
1. How does the three second rule work?
To use the three second rule to establish a safe distance between vehicles, start by simply watching the vehicle in front of you pass a road sign or other stationary object on the side of the road. As that vehicle passes the selected object, slowly count to three before your vehicle passes that same object. Typically, applying this three second rule while driving will provide you with enough distance to react to the vehicle in front of you and allows you to stop if that vehicle has to slow down or stop suddenly. However, when road or weather conditions are not ideal - snow or ice, heavy rains or driving a heavy vehicle - give yourself additional seconds of space to account for the hazardous conditions.
2. Can I get a ticket for not following the three second rule?
The State of Georgia explicitly prohibits following too closely or tailgating, when operating any vehicle. Depending on the situation drivers could be given a ticket for reckless driving or other serious moving violations. As a result, if you fail to follow the three second rule and operate your vehicle while distracted, you may receive a traffic citation from law enforcement for following too closely.
According to Georgia traffic laws, the driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable considering the conditions of the roadway. The law specifically states that vehicles that approach from the rear are considered to be following vehicles.
3. What happens if you get a ticket for following too close in Georgia?
Following the 3 second rule driving could help you avoid a ticket in Georgia. Drivers who refuse to follow the rule are either distracted driving or tailgating. Both practices are dangerous and cause thousands of vehicle accidents every year, as well as numerous fatalities. Maintaining a safer distance between you and the vehicle you are following and allows you to better avoid tailgating and a potentially life-altering accident.
A ticket for following too close - or tailgating - in Georgia can result in either a fine, points assessed to your driver's license, or both. If found guilty you could receive a fine and other fees depending on the county where you receive the ticket. And since these tickets are considered moving violations, you could also have three points added to your Georgia driver's license. Additionally, the same driving behavior could result in other more serious charges depending on the situation.
4. What happens if I am involved in an accident due to following too close?
As with any automobile accident the consequences of accidents due to following too close or tailgating can be significant with potentially life altering and devastating effects. If an accident occurs because someone ignores the three second rule and is following too close, the liability or fault for the accident will most likely be attributed to the driver who rear-ends the other driver. Therefore, any medical injuries or damages to personal property of everyone involved in the accident will be the responsibility of the tailgating or distracted driver. An expert familiar with the nuances of these complex issues is a great resource to consult in these situations.
As with most situations there are exceptions, and the accused driver may be able to avoid or reduce their liability if they can show that the accident was caused by the other party or that the other party contributed to the accident by their own actions. This will most likely involve proving that the driver was changing lanes, weaving, or was otherwise distracted while operating their vehicle. Distracted driving could either be texting, changing the radio station, "rubber necking" or any other behavior that takes the driver's attention off the road. If you find yourself in this situation, do not attempt to figure out the facts and apply the law on your own. Contact your local injury lawyer to get assistance navigating these issues.