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Only a fool breaks the 2 second rule!

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We Are Marmalade

December 18, 2017

Driving advice Learning to drive 3 min read

Have you ever heard ‘Only a fool breaks the 2 second rule’? Don’t worry if not, because we’re here to give you the low down on what it really means when you’re driving.

The different stopping distances when you’re travelling will depend on a number of things; such as the speed you are going and the weather conditions you are driving in. Sometimes, it may become a bit confusing on how many meters space you need to leave, and work out your braking distance and thinking distance.

The 2-second rule is a rough guide as to how much space to leave between you and the vehicle ahead. It is also an estimated reaction time of the driver.

How do I use the 2 second rule?

Ok, imagine you’re driving along a road with a car in front of you. When that car passes a stationary object (for instance a lamp post or road sign) you begin to say ‘only a fool breaks the 2-second rule’, at a normal speaking rate. Alternatively, you can count – one one thousand, two one thousand – whichever you find easier. If the front of your car reaches the stationary object before you finish speaking, then you’re too close to the car in front and you need to increase your distance.


This is just a general rule of thumb, but it’s a really handy thing to remember when road conditions are normal. It’s also only a minimum recommended distance, so staying a good 3 or 4 seconds back is even better.

What if someone is tailgating me?

If a driver behind you is far too close, and you know is breaking the 2 second rule, then there are a few things you can do.

Try and move to another lane if possible, or keep a slow speed to let the vehicle behind you pass. If they overtake you and put themselves between yourself and the car ahead of where you judged your 2-second rule, then you will need to readjust your distance.

As frustrating as it is when someone does tailgate you, you must never put your brakes on to warn the driver. This will only make the situation more difficult, and it will become even more dangerous.

Should I use the 2 second rule in bad weather?

No! Wet or icy roads can more than double your stopping distance, so it stands to reason that you need to leave at least 4 seconds between you and the vehicle in front – although we would recommend more than that to be on the safe side. You can either say the phrase 2 or 3 times or count 5-10 seconds – but the main thing is to always leave a lot more space when driving in bad weather.

Have you ever used the 2-second rule? Does it help you keep within a safe stopping distance from the car ahead? Let us know over on our Facebook page!

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By We Are Marmalade

'We champion young drivers with award-winning low cost insurance for learner and new drivers and a great young drivers' car scheme.'  See more posts by We Are

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