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How long it actually takes a driver to react

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2023 | Personal Injury

You may have heard that drivers need to leave a proper following distance between cars. Often, they are told to leave three or four seconds between each vehicle. This is done to give them enough reaction time so that they can avoid a rear-end accident or other unexpected events ahead of them.

People who tailgate and violate this three-second following distance will often say that they still think they have enough space. They do not consider this to be a dangerous decision. They are wrong, and they are increasing the odds that they will be involved in an accident. It may just be due to a fundamental lack of understanding when it comes to reaction times.

3 different stops

When drivers think of the necessary reaction time, they think of the amount of distance they need to stop the vehicle. But this can be deceptive.

In reality, reaction time starts with perception. It will often take a driver around 3/4 of a second simply to perceive the need to push the brakes. They have not even physically moved yet, but that is how long their brain takes to analyze the information and determine that hitting the brakes is the appropriate response.

After that, the driver has to physically pick their foot up and move it over to the brake pedal. Even in the best of scenarios – if the driver does not have any physical limitations – this can take another 3/4 of a second.

In other words, a driver needs between 1.5 to 2 seconds just to notice that it is time to hit the brakes and get their foot in position to do so. After that, it takes additional time for the brakes to actually slow the vehicle down and stop. This is why having 3 to 4 seconds is the minimum because anything less just does not allow for enough time to stop the car.

Unfortunately, drivers negligently cause rear-end accidents all the time. Those who have been injured may need to seek financial compensation.

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