The following distance you should observe when you are riding your motorcycle is a subject of debate. Some say two seconds’ distance is sufficient between your bike and the car ahead. Others insist that adding another second makes all the difference in a tricky situation.
Regardless of the measurement you choose, maintaining a safe following distance is an effort that is incumbent upon all drivers, and for good reason.
The meaning of the three-second rule
In determining whether you are traveling too close to the vehicle in front of you, use the three-second rule as your guide. Look for a fixed object ahead, such as a tree or a sign. When the vehicle drives past that object, count to three, as in “one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand.” If you are still counting when you pass the object, you need to increase your distance from the other vehicle.
The two-second alternative
Some motorcycle riders say that observing a two-second rule is enough; after all, motorcycles are faster and more maneuverable than cars and need less time to stop. But what if you are following an 18-wheeler? What if the trucker passes over an object in the road that you do not see until it suddenly materializes from beneath the back of the truck? You have no alternative but to run over it with your motorcycle. In this case, the two-second rule might lead to a horrendous crash with serious injuries because you are following too closely.
Facing less-than-ideal conditions
If you embrace the three-second rule, remember to double it to six seconds when you are riding in poor weather or after dark. If the conditions are very bad—heavy rain or fog—you should go to nine seconds for the sake of safety. Fortunately, such conditions do not often occur in Southern California, but as a motorcycle rider, you always want to think ahead. Maintain a safe distance from other drivers by keeping the simple three-second rule in mind so you can be prepared for the unexpected.