The correct following distance can prevent many car crashes!

The Arrive Alive website received a request for guidance on what the correct following distance should be. We would like to answer with the following advice from the experts:

Following distance

There is no specific distance in metres specified in the Regulations, because the distance would vary according to the speed of the two vehicles, the load carried, road surface and other factors. Distance is therefore judged in terms of time – how long it would take the following vehicle to reach that same spot on the road that the vehicle ahead has just reached.

For the learner’s licence test no specific following time is specified in the Regulations for Rules of the Road. The minimum 2-second following distance in ‘normal’ conditions is based on the K53 driving test requirements and some books give this as a guide in the learner’s licence section. Driving experts maintain that this is to short anyway.

Here are the Regulations per the National Road Traffic Act for Rules of the Road to be tested in the learner’s licence test.

308.   General duties of driver or passenger of vehicle on public road

(1)  No person driving or having a vehicle on a public road shall—

(a) cause such vehicle to travel backwards unless it can be done in safety, or cause it to run backwards for a distance or time longer than may be necessary for the safety or reasonable convenience of any occupant of that vehicle or of other traffic on such road; or

(b) follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent having regard to the speed of such other vehicle and the traffic on and the condition of the roadway, or more closely than is prescribed in these regulations;

If there is a question in the official test about a safe following distance, which requires an answer in metres, the test is out of line with the requirements of the National Road Traffic Act and the matter should be taken up with the Department of Transport.

Is the writer sure the question was in fact about a safe following distance, or about one of the other rules which do specify a distance in metres?

Other distances (e.g. no parking, no stopping, load projections, headlights, etc.)

I have summarised these at this Web page.

I hope this helps.


Gavin Hoole
Cape Town
K53 Test Info
For Learner’s & Driver’s Licence Test Preparation

Also view:

Following Distances and Road Safety

Increase Following Distances in Rainy Weather

One thought on “The correct following distance can prevent many car crashes!

  • May 13, 2013 at 9:42 am

    I would like to know what the law is regarding a safe stopping distance at a stop sign if I stop behind another car at a stop sign or robot.

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