Feb 12, 2024

Use the 2 second rule

Ian Biddle
Further reading
2 second rule

National Highways urges drivers to use the two-second rule in new campaign

Drivers have been warned against the dangers of tailgating amid concerns that huge numbers of motorists are failing to follow basic safety rules on the country’s busiest roads.

Eight in 10 people questioned in a National Highways poll said they were aware of the ‘two-second rule’ when they took to the wheel. While three-quarters (75%) said they had never driven too close to the vehicle in front within the previous three months.

Yet a recent trial of new tailgating cameras on a stretch of the M1 captured 60,343 incidents of vehicles driving too close, in just one year.

National Highways has now launched a campaign to tackle the issue of tailgating which is a factor in around one in eight crashes on England’s motorways and major A roads.

National Highways Head of Road Safety, Jeremy Phillips, said:

Unfortunately, as highlighted by the M1 trial, we know that too many people are driving too close on our roads.

Most tailgating is unintentional by drivers who don’t realise that they are infringing on someone else’s space. But not leaving enough space between you and the vehicle in front is not only very frightening for that driver, it could have devastating consequences.

The closer you get, the less time you have to react and to stop safely. So to avoid inadvertently getting too close to the vehicle in front, we would urge drivers to use the two-second rule and to always ‘stay safe, stay back’.

The Highway Code tells drivers to allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic and in tunnels where visibility is reduced. The gap should be wider as speeds increase. It rises to 2.4 seconds – about 53 metres – when driving at 50mph and 3.1 seconds – or 96 metres – at 70mph.

Furthermore, the gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads.

To use the rule, drivers should allow the vehicle in front to pass a fixed object such as a lamp post or road sign then count to two seconds. If they reach two seconds before reaching the reference marker they need to drop back.