Following Distance

Find out how keeping a safe driving distance can help avoid or minimise accidents.

Data for the Sydney Region shows that 27% of crashes are from a rear end - more than half of these crashes result in injury.

To be more specific, over the last three years in Sydney there were 15,031 rear-end crashes which resulted in 14 fatalities and 9,845 injuries.

In Cumberland Local Government area every fourth crash was from the rear end 28% and 69% rear end crashes resulted in injury. Young drivers have been involved in almost every fourth rear end crash 23%.

Most of these crashes could have been avoided had a 3 SECOND GAP been maintained!

Reaction Distance and Braking Distance

When you see the brake lights of the car in front come on, you hit the brake to slow your car down...but in actual fact, there is a small time delay before you do that - your reaction time.

During that period of time, your car is still moving at the same speed out of your control. The faster you are going, the further you will travel during this time.

So your total stopping distance is actually made up of your reaction distance and the distance it takes for your car to stop once you've pressed the brake.

The biggest factor in stopping distances is the speed at which a driver reacts to seeing a hazard - Driver Reaction Time

Response speed depends on several factors thus there is no single, universal reaction time value.

Factors that affect reaction time are: expectation, urgency, mental load, psychological refractory period, age, nature of the signal, visibility, response complexity, time of the day.

Braking time and distance depends on factors such as: the type of braking system, brake pad material, brake alignment, tyre pressure, tread and grip, vehicle weight, suspension system, the coefficient of friction of the road surface, wind speed, slope of road, surface smoothness, the braking technique applied by the driver, weather conditions.

Stopping distances vary according to driver conditions, road and weather conditions and vehicle conditions

Drivers need to recognise that:

No matter how good driver you think you are and how good your car is, the difference between driving at the speed limit and a few km/h over the limit will result in a much longer stopping distance. That could result in fatal consequences.


The 3 Second Rule

To avoid rear end crashes you should maintain a 3 second gap between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

For more information, download the Following Distance fact sheet.

The 3 Second Rule Video

How We Can Help

Contact our Road Safety Officer via email to let us know about problems with roads, and find out more about how we’re committed to improving road safety in the Cumberland region.